Introduction to the Series
This is the first of a four-part series focusing on the reasons why companies measure their Web performance. This perspective is substantially different than ones posited by others in the field as they focus on the meat and potatoes reasons, rather than the sometimes more difficult to imagine future effects that measurement will bring.
Reason One: Customer Generation
It is critical that a company be able to show that their Web services are superior to others, especially in the third-party services and delivery sectors of the Web. In this area, Web performance measurement is key to demonstrating the value and advantage of a service versus the option of self-delivering or using another competitor’s service.
Comparative benchmarking that clearly demonstrates the performance of each of the competitive services in the geographic regions that are of greatest interest to the prospect is key to these Web performance measurements. To achieve truly competitive benchmarks and prove the value of a service, measurements must be realistic and flexible.
In the CDN field, a one object fits all approach is no longer valid. CDNs are responsible for delivering not just images or static objects, but may also host an entire application on their edge servers, serving both HTTP and HTTPS content. In other cases, the application may not be hosted at the edge, but the edge server may act as a proxy for the application, using advancing routing algorithms to deliver the visitor the requested dynamic content more quickly (in theory) than the origin server alone.
This complex range of services means that a CDN has to be willing to demonstrate effective and efficient service delivery before the sale is complete. A CDN has to be willing to expose their system not just to the backbone-based measurements offered in a traditional customer generation process, but to take measurements from the real-user perspective.
Ad-providers have to be willing to show that their service does not affect the overall performance of the site they are trying to place their content on. Web analytics firms face the same challenge. Web analytics firms have one advantage: if their object doesn’t load properly, it may not effect the visitor experience. However, neither ad-providers nor Web-analytics providers can hide from Web measurement collection methods that show all of the bling and the blemishes.
Using Web performance measurements to generate customers is a way that a firm can clearly show that they have faith enough in their service to openly compare it to other providers and to the status quo.
But woe be the firm who uses Web performance metrics in a way that tries to show only their good side. Prospects become former prospects very quickly if a firm using Web performance data to generate new business is found to be gaming the system to their advantage. And it will happen.
Customer Generation is a key method that Web performance measurements are used by firms to clearly show how their service is superior to what a prospect currently has, or is also considering. However, this method does come with substantial caveats, including
- The need to measure what is relevant
- The need to measure from where the prospect has the greatest interest
- The need to consider that gaming the system to show advantage will cost a firm in the end.