Hi everyone. As many of you know, 8 months ago FANDOM began producing Featured Videos that live on wiki pages. We did this to accomplish three key goals:
- Reach a web audience that is increasingly looking for video content, and do it in a way that compliments the text content that has been built over many years.
- Use pre-roll advertisements in front of Featured Videos to dramatically reduce the number of advertisements on any given wiki page.
- Improve page load times by reducing the number of advertisements.
A few months ago we produced some videos for RuneScape Wiki and Old School RuneScape Wiki that did not live up to the standards we want in Featured Videos. Among other issues, we used content that would easily become out of date. We knew that in order to produce Featured Videos, we needed someone who has a ton of RuneScape expertise and the videos needed to be produced in a way that minimized the likelihood that they would become out of date.
We turned to a freelancer recommended by the community here and worked with him and his expertise in order to produce a first cut of these videos. We incorporated the feedback given to us by some of the admins here and also put them through a rigorous internal review, so we could ensure that these videos were the best that they could be.
We know that the addition of Featured Videos may lead to some questions and concerns about how they will impact page performance, so let’s talk about the changes we’ve made to advertisements and page performance over the last several months.
One of the biggest concerns expressed by RuneScape and Old School RuneScape admins and community members is in regards to the number of advertisements per page and their impact on page load times and user retention. Because of the Featured Videos we have across FANDOM, we were able to slash the number of advertisements on every wiki page by 30%. This new ad layout was completed in October 2017, but was being rolled out to several countries beginning in July.
Across FANDOM, the decrease in advertisements has led to major improvements in page performance. The average page load time on desktop across the entire site dropped 46% from the beginning to the end of 2017. For RuneScape specifically, the numbers are very similar: average page load times on RuneScape are 44% lower than they were one year ago.
This has had a significant impact on user retention. In that same period of time, the number of pages that a single user reads per visit to the wiki increased 17% - and that number is increasing, a trend we expect to see continue. The increase directly correlates to when the new ad layout began to roll out worldwide. Your readers are beginning to notice the improvements in page performance, and they are sticking around longer as a result.
You can see these changes illustrated here:
This chart shows the changes in page load times and pages per session from January 2015 to December 2017. The peak page load time was in February 2017, and it has been consistently trending downward since July 2017. The slight uptick at the end of the year is due to typical end-of-year traffic increases and ad differences.
We know that this does not address every concern people may have, but we do hope it's a major first step. You've said for years that advertisements are a problem, and we've said for years that we agree - and now, finally, we have been in the position to do something about it, and the results are pretty spectacular. There's also more to come very soon: we'll be applying many of these same successes to mobile, and we're working on making even more strides to improve page performance.
In the meantime, if you have any questions about Featured Videos, advertisements, and page performance, please don't hesitate to ask them here so we can discuss them with you. -BertH (help forum | blog) 18:36, February 12, 2018 (UTC)