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  • NegBox 7:51 pm on September 7, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Accelerate, CDN, , , , Pre-Load   

    Speed Up Landing Pages and Redirects by Loading a Preview from a Content Distribution Network like CloudFront 

    If the offer you are promoting loads too slowly for sending it PPV traffic directly, or your own redirection is slowing down your pop-ups, here’s an interesting solution I developed.

    The idea is simple: Show the user the landing page even before it is fully loaded – so you get them to see the offer just a bit before they can actually interact with it – This way they hopefully don’t close down the pop-up because it catches their eye.

    What this does, in summary:

    1 – Take a snapshot of the landing page (you do this, manually)
    2 – Upload the snapshot and an HTML page to CloudFront
    3 – Point the PPV/CPV network to pop the HTML file instead of your tracking link
    4 – The HTML file, hosted on the Content Distribution Network (Akamai, CloudFront, etc) will load the snapshot from the same CDN and also load the REAL URL in the background in a transparent frame
    5 – When the real offer URL frame is fully loaded, switch the transparency levels and the real landing page appears instantly in place
    6 – All relevant URL variables get passed on

    The effect is pretty much invisible to the user – It just loads a ton faster- depending on the speed of where you’re redirecting to. Remember to optimize the snapshot graphic file you’re serving. In my testing (about 10,000 pops) the loss of impressions reaching the offer page went DOWN by 2%-3% (to 8% total – down from 10%) for direct to the offer, also this was 18% better (again in terms of impressions reaching the offer page) when compared to a slower redirect I used.

    As with everything, test it. What I did notice in testing was that it provides no benefit if the landing page is really fast already – the slower your redirection, tracking, offer or affiliate network servers are, the more juice you’ll get out of of this script.

    If you want to check the variables that are getting passed to the iFramed page simply use the attached “Variable Checker” PHP file.

    My original pre-loader used PHP for the redirection – take a look at it at the bottom, it is simpler than the Javascript based one – It needs your PHP processor, though – which slows it down. In that one, the way that the frames get flipped around after the real offer frame loads are much more clearly visible. Have fun!

    I’m placing everything in a neat ZIP file for you to download HERE:


    JAVASCRIPT-Based Landing page pre-loader


    Original PHP-Based Preloader (Not recommended)

    • CTRtard 12:04 am on September 8, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      Good idea, I’m going to have to try this. Nice job!

      • Slave Rat 3:26 pm on September 9, 2010 Permalink | Reply

        Thanks. I found it is helpful when the performance of the redirects is unpredictable (ie: if you’re crushing your 202 server with traffic spikes) – Its pretty much invisible if everything goes fast. The biggest downside I forgot to mention is that it wipes your referrer with the domain name of wherever you are hosting this special page – Keyword tracking works fine, still if you look at the referrer field, they’re all your own domain. Depending on what you’re doing this might be an awesome feature, as you can blank referrers and accelerate landing pages all in one step.

  • NegBox 7:02 am on June 30, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , AWS, Cache, CDN, Cloud, , Plugins, S3, W3 Total Cache,   

    How to Accelerate your Site to Warp Factor 9.9 without paying $99 a month 

    Ever wish you could deliver web pages and graphics at blazing speeds without having to sell your firstborn?

    Before CloudFront Blog Load Times

    99% of the content of this blog is now speeding from Amazon’s CloudFront Content Distribution Network. Check the page source code – whatever comes from “cloud.negbox.com” is actually coming from a server at an Amazon location near YOU. Yes, YOU. Not me, not my hosting provider… You.

    After CloudFront Blog Load Times

    After CloudFront Blog Load Times

    I never thought I would set up my own little CDN in a few hours – I thought these things were hard as hell to set up. Amazon has made it incredibly simple, and you don’t have to pick up the phone to talk to any IT ‘tard. I basically muddled my way through. The really nice bit is that I estimate that for my 3GB of storage and an ungodly amount of traffic on this blog, the monthly cost I would pay for storage, transfer, etc would not exceed a coffee at Starbucks even when I double my realistic estimate. Yup, this is really cheap.

    Now imagine hosting your landing page and images on CloudFront. Wouldn’t that be sweet for the PPV mavens?

    Turns out Amazon has been offering for some time this service called CloudFront. If you’ve heard of Akamai (by far the biggest name in this field) and other Content Distribution Networks – you know what this is. They put the stuff in a redundant cloud close to the people that request the files. Theoretically if folks from Botswanahilii start requesting your pages, your pages start getting replicated to servers closer to Botswanahilii – That’s the gist of a CDN and I understand CloudFront follows it to some degree – not going to split hairs on this one.

    Signing up for Amazon Web Services is dead-simple. Setting up CloudFront is not for the faint of heart – it involved no coding, and can be done easily – but there is little in the way of user-level help screens – you get tons of help pages, but its all aimed at developers. Just do like me: Close your eyes, plug some values that make  sense and cross your fingers… You did it on every other test in school – this is no different.

    Amazon has a really nice web interface for all their web services… I’m not going to go into how awesome all their other services are – just check them out, they are awesome.

    If you’ve got balls of steel, you can follow my instructions:

    1 – Signup to AWS (Amazon Web Services) – Give them your billing info.

    2 – Go into the AWS interface, go to the tab labeled S3 and “Create a Bucket” any name is fine – if it gives you errors, try a more unique name. “Bucket” is probably taken.

    3 – Go into the CloudFront tab and “Create a Distribution” and give it the name of your blog, or your pet Iguana, don’t really matter.

    3a – Select download for the type (I really don’t know what the difference is – this is how I did it). On the “Origin” drop down, select the name of the bucket you created on step 2

    3b – On the CNAME field, put a subdomain you will be creating for this file distribution service. I chose “cloud” so in that field I put in “cloud.negbox.com” … The way NegBox is set up (no www) I could have perfectly well chosen  “www” on CloudFront and could serve some static pages from http://www.negbox.com/index.html straight from CloudFront (note it doesn’t do “root” or document finding, so pointing your browser at the root of your CloudFront subdomain returns gibberish).

    4 – Go to your hosting provider’s DNS tool or your registrar’s DNS tool – Whoever is doing name resolution for you at the moment – and add a CNAME record. The Cname Record has only two pieces of information – One is going to be the name you want to redirect, in this case “cloud.negbox.com” the other piece of info is WHERE you want to redirect it to – that comes from the AWS interface – when you are looking at the CloudFront dashboard you can see your network’s line that says “Delivery Method, Domain, Comment, Bucket”. That domain name that is something like d87sdhs98.cloudfront.com is the second bit of info you need for the CNAME record.

    5 – You’re done. Sorta – Now you need to redirect traffic to the cloud.

    To get WordPress working with CloudFront I am using W3 Total Cache from Frederick Townes. I can’t even begin to explain what an AMAZING piece of software the W3 Total Cache plugin is. I am simply amazed it is free – he could charge in the hundreds for this piece of software. One hint, though – Don’t use the current distribution release – get the development build 0.9 from wordpres.org, this new release in the pipeline worked flawlessly with CloudFront.

    To really use the plug-in is going to take a bit of time to figure out and learn – but its amazing. It scans your site and uploads to the CDN the files it needs, it minifies and caches your pages an uploads the cached pages, updates your .htaccess, goes through all your posts and fetches any content you’ve linked to, brings it into the media library and then exports it to the CDN… In short, it won’t wipe your butt, but it comes pretty close.

    If you need some hand-holding, they actually offer support, installation and professional services… Or you could go dig into the much more exhaustive posts on how to use W3 Total Cache with Self-Hosted CDN from Udegbunam Chukwudi and his follow-up post – His post is about self-hosted CDNs, but still very useful.

    What does this all translate to? Well, this site loads about 40-50% faster when profiled with simple Safari tools. Yes, the women are coming faster at you.

    It also means I’m going to seriously think about how I use CloudFront to accelerate any landing pages, blogs, flogs, etc.

    Go forth and Accelerate!

    • Frederick Townes 10:31 pm on June 30, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      A great how to post. Thank you. 🙂

      • Slave Rat 4:32 am on July 1, 2010 Permalink | Reply

        Frederick, you’re a genius with your W3 Total Cache plug-in. Once I got the right version, I could not believe how simple it was to push everything to the cloud – and keep it updated automatically – plus the minification and cache. Hats off.

    • Mike Chiasson 12:28 am on July 1, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      Heh a good lil quick tutorial. I had thought about this a while ago, the benefits are obvious, but I never actually looked at the possible price. I know Dreamhost offers a really quick integration for their customers.

      A while back I wrote a post on how bad my analytics reported on my PPV traffic from my shared hosting plans. However on my dedicated server the load times are like 5-10x better and I still see a big fall out from what I’m actually paying for from what my analytics shows. So sometimes I’m not so sure that load times matter as much as we all think, people are getting faster at hitting that X on the pop up!
      My recent post Kicked From an Offer

      • negbox 4:50 am on July 1, 2010 Permalink | Reply

        Mike, for price check out their online calculator here http://calculator.s3.amazonaws.com/calc5.html Its very complete. Its in the same ballpark as any traditionally hosted solution for most intents and purposes – you're not going to rack up a $3000 bill unless you're running animoto.com – Which runs entirely (rendering and everything) on Amazon's cloud.
        I saw your post on the PPV view rates – I was thinking of you when I wrote about the PPV mavens. 🙂 … This may be a dumb question, but… Are those analytics for PPV view rates javascript-based? If so I've heard its a good idea to compare to good ole AWstats and other log analysis tools.
        Speaking of BlueHost… Damn… I just Googled "Bluehost CDN"… They integratred CloudFront within four months of release and it is a push-button integration – not all this stuff I just did. I smell a trial migration coming at least for one site.

    • Udegbunam Chukwudi 8:32 pm on August 23, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      Thanks for the mention but do please edit the post ’cause my tutorial is for self-hosted CDN not CloudFront.

      Cheers 😉

      • Slave Rat 9:29 pm on August 23, 2010 Permalink | Reply

        Thanks, I’ve updated the post. Really nice guide. Thank you again!

        • Udegbunam Chukwudi 12:07 pm on August 25, 2010 Permalink | Reply

          Hey what’s up? I just wanted to call your attention to the fact that your link back to my blog is till showing “how to use W3 Total Cache with Cloudfront from Udegbunam Chukwudi” as the anchor text. Do please change it to “how to use W3 Total Cache with Self-Hosted CDN from Udegbunam Chukwudi”.
          Thank you sir ;-).

          P.S: Since you say you’ve already made the change do please clear your cache as I’m still seeing the old revision in my browser 😉

          P.P.S: Your contact form ain’t sending mails from my end.

          • Slave Rat 5:24 pm on August 30, 2010 Permalink | Reply

            LOL.. Thanks for the tip-off. Fixed I believe!

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