Solving the Latency Issue with Signal

Sovrn Publisher Advocate // May 7, 2019

One of the biggest concerns that publishers have about any new product is latency. Publishers are rightfully wary of any product that will add more code to a page and risk slowing down loading times. Reader attention is measured in seconds, and when your page loads slowly, your readers bounce. It goes without saying that user experience and fast loading times should be preserved at all costs.

We built Signal specifically to address those concerns. Signal creates no added latency, which ensures that publishers can rest easy about engineering concerns, and that readers are given the positive site experience they deserve. Signal doesn’t slow your site down. It doesn’t hurt your advertising performance. And it definitely does make you more money.

This week, we’re taking a dive into latency. Formerly an issue with legacy ad refresh products, Signal is built to be lightweight, easy to implement, and focused on reducing page load times. Read on to discover how Signal delivers fast page load time and solves the latency issue.

The Way it’s Built

Signal is delivered through Connect, which is our ultra-lightweight, single-tag delivery system. In order to guarantee timing efficiency, every Connect container is precompiled using the Google Closure Compiler, which minimizes the size of the tag. In the same way, our script includes only necessary features in order to minimize dead code. Once the tag is completed, it is further compressed using gzip, taking the tag from an average of 57KB to 16KB.

Delivering Signal through Connect also prevents any excess engineering work. All that’s required is copying and pasting a single tag. And because Connect is a unified system, it’s updated automatically, freeing up your resources for other projects.

The Way it’s Delivered

Once the Signal tech has been precompiled and compressed, we use Amazon Cloudfront to deliver our Connect content to publishers. This ultra fast cloud infrastructure has available endpoints globally which delivers content closer to the source, ensuring fast delivery. 

The Way it Loads

Connect uses the async and defer attributes to load asynchronously. This means the page is not stopped from parsing while the tag loads its content, resulting in much better load times and user experience. 

The async attribute ensures Connect executes in parallel (asynchronously) with the page loading. The defer attribute is very similar to async, and is used to ensure asynchronous loading is supported across all browsers and that Connect retains its lightweight loading structure in cases when async is not available.

In cases in which both async and defer are available, async takes precedence.

What this means is that in either case Signal won’t stop the page in question from loading, and it won’t add latency while a user is busy interacting with your content. It’s a streamlined process that’s focused on user experience.

The Way it Collects Data

Every metrics call that Signal makes is executed when the user is not actively engaged with the page. Instead, Signal asynchronously transfers a small amount of data over HTTP to global web servers. This prevents slowdown during user sessions, and allows Signal to go unnoticed on the page.

The Way it Activates

Signal requires only a single tag to target all the ad placements on a page, instead of requiring a separate tag for each one. This means that it’s only making a single browser call, rather than multiple calls multiple times over the course of a session. Again, this means that Signal doesn’t overwhelm browsers, thereby preventing annoying page slowdown.

The Bottom Line

If you’re worried about latency, don’t be.

In fact, the time to load Signal  goes from a minimum of 0.00012 seconds to a maximum of 0.07627 seconds, with an average of 0.00208 seconds. That’s fast enough to be unnoticeable by users, and yet it’s enough time to deliver a product that can give you 5x the yield and 3x the fill of header bidding, while also improving your viewability scores. That’s a lot of revenue delivered through a tiny piece of code.

Get started with Signal today

Publishers using Prebid can request free access to Signal to unlock, in a cookieless-environment, greater on-page attention and engagement to effectively segment and scale inventory and audience segments. They can then broadcast enhanced impression information and price recommendations to buyers through Sovrn’s Ad Exchange private marketplace to increase CPM value. In addition, publishers using Signal can tap real-time insights to benchmark how their ad inventory CPM compares to the market, adjust their pricing strategy accordingly and drive greater revenue per user visit. 

The world of online advertising has reached a pivotal moment, with a unique opportunity for advertisers and publishers to join forces and unlock new solutions that will benefit everyone involved. Sovrn Signal gives publishers a simple, scalable way to measure user attention, access deep audience insights, deliver the data buyers need to target high-value audience segments, and maximize inventory value. 

Sovrn Signal delivers a simple, scalable way to measure user attention, analyze ad performance, and access deep insights to maximize the value of your ad inventory. To learn more, visit the Signal page on our website or send an email to Our team will be happy to demonstrate how Signal can work for you.

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