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Page Load Testing: Embedding With DocStoc and Scribd

As I work in search engine marketing – I frequently test my sites’ page load times just to make sure I’m getting my content to visitors as quickly as possible. I don’t spend a lot of time worrying about my blog – until I posted an embedded pdf on a post recently and noticed a significant performance drop off. I ran this site through the great tool at Webpagetest.org. I was appalled to see 10 second+ load times!!!1 I dug into the numbers and saw that my scribd embed was hogging bandwidth like a sonofabitch. I knew there are basically two players in this field – scribd and docstoc so i figured I would test page load time with each. The results are pretty interesting:

Page Browser Load Time Fully Loaded Req Bytes in
DocStoc Chrome ✓ 0.616s 4.324s 12 258 KB
DocStoc Firefox 1.295s 3.681s 12 258 KB
DocStoc IE8 1.348s 3.900s 12 258 KB
Scribd Firefox 7.800s 8.556s 49 557 KB
Scribd Chrome 8.378s 9.198s 57 552 KB
Scribd IE8 15.269s 15.755s 63 742 KB

DocStoc loads a flash object – while scribd loads up a remote page via an iframe. Intuitively one might expect flash to perform worse – but in this case the biggest culprit is the sheer volume of third party scripts scribd is embedding. Depending on browser between 49-63 request compared to DocStoc’s consistent 12. Additionally scribd serves up over twice the total page weight as does DocStoc (257kb vs 552-743kb). Scribd clearly isn’t concerned enuogh about user experience with their embedded documents.

Some notes about the test – first off its clearly unscientific – but the difference in load time was such that further tests seem pretty pointless. I used the default embed code from each site – and uploaded the same simple text document to each (a simple robots.txt file). Each page was identical and loaded no other external resources. The pages can be seen here and here.

A few items of interest – scribd is including twitter, facebook and google+ external javascripts which is probably not as noticeable on many sites – but still a very heavy bandwidth decision. The one item that stands apart though is scribd’s decision to include a quantcast tracking code (http://edge.quantserve.com/quant.js). Looks like a bid to inflate their quantcast numbers – judging by their traffic there.

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Andrew Breitbart FBI Files Revealed

I recently signed up for muckrock.com which makes it ridiculously easy to submit freedom of information requests (FOIA). As Andrew Breitbart had recently passed away I figured I would check to see if the FBI had any files on him. They claim they don’t. I’ll let you decide whether or not they are full of shit.

100364528-Andrew-Breitbart-Foia

If you’re looking for an easy way to submit FOIA requests (for free even) head on over to muckrock.com.

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No, Sarah Jessica Parker Is Not Getting Deleted From OFA Emails

Lots of people are linking to an article on observer.com noting that some fundraising emails from the Obama campaign are “deleting” mention of Sarah Jessica Parker. The piece on the New York Observer points in turn to a site set up by propublica that shows several variants of an email marketing campaign. So far they have collected 7 different variants.

This is nothing new. Marketers have been split testing email marketing messages since email’s inception. As much as I’d love to poke fun at Sarah Jessica Parker, there is simply nothing sinister going on – and the messages prominently featuring SJP may in fact be the best performing variants. In fact, if they are using a “OneMulti Armed Bandit” approach to split testing the fact that the emails mentioning SJP have been spotted by propublica more frequently than the other variants *may* show her mails are performing better. Of course the sample size in this case is of extremely limited value.