Facebook Begins Prefetching to Improve Mobile Site Speed

Facebook announced Wednesday that it will begin prefetching, or preloading advertiser sites, in order to boost its mobile performance and ease users’ frustration with slow load times.

The social network also revealed in a Facebook for Business post that website landing page speed will become a factor in deciding which ads to show in order to ensure that mobile users have the best experience, adding that this will occur “over the coming months.”

The thinking behind implementing prefetching was described as follows in the post:

Our goal is to improve user experience by helping businesses be the best mobile advertisers they can be, so we’re always developing new tools and insights to improve mobile experience. Today, we’re introducing prefetching—preloading mobile content in the Facebook in-app browser before a link is tapped. This can shorten mobile site load time by 29 percent, or 8.5 seconds, improving the experience and decreasing the risk of site abandonment. Learn more about prefetching, especially if you use third-party tag-based measurement.

Over the coming months, we’re working to improve ad experiences for people by considering website performance and a person’s network connection in our ad auction and delivery system. In this way, we can better match ads to the moments when people can best engage with content. Helping to ensure the best ad experiences on mobile is key to providing value for both people and businesses on Facebook.

Facebook pointed out that up to 40 percent of website visitors abandon those sites after delays of three seconds:

People are spending more and more time on mobile—consuming content, interacting with businesses and making purchases. However, since it’s a relatively new channel, many businesses haven’t optimized their websites for mobile yet and still have very slow loading times. This can lead to negative experiences for people and problems for businesses such as site abandonment, missed business objectives and inaccurate measurement. That’s why Facebook is sharing tips and investing in solutions to help businesses optimize their websites for mobile.

Nobody wants to wait ages for a website to load. A better mobile experience helps businesses form a stronger connection with the people interested in them. Plus, site abandonment hurts business objectives, like completing a purchase or filling out a form. It can also bring challenges to measurement—people often abandon sites before third-party site analytics have time to register a page visit. This can make it harder to track and optimize ad performance.

The social network also provided the following suggestions for businesses looking to optimize their sites for mobile:

  • Minimize landing page redirects, plugins and link shorteners.
  • Compress files to decrease mobile rendering time.
  • Improve server response time by utilizing multi-region hosting.
  • Use a high-quality content delivery network to reach audiences quickly.
  • Remove render-blocking JavaScript.

Readers: What are your thoughts on Facebook’s efforts to improve its mobile experiences for advertisers and users?

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