3 ways a modern CDN can help your digital publishing strategy

We all know it by now: Readers want personalized, timely content that loads fast, regardless of platform or where they’re located — and if they don’t get such an experience, they’ll go find it somewhere else. Despite this being fact, a surprising number of digital publishing companies are still using legacy content delivery technology that hinders them from achieving these goals.

The key to retaining — and growing — your customer base is being first to serve the most up-to-date content, personalizing that content for readers, and ensuring online experiences are responsive, safe, and secure. Here are three ways a modern content delivery network, or CDN, can help you do just that. 

Customize your content

Many digital publishers tailor news stories using variables like viewing platform, location, and subscription status in order to deliver highly personalized content. However, not all CDNs have the needed visibility and configurability to support these efforts. This compromises customer loyalty and risks a loss of audience in both the near and long term.

Modern CDNs can help developers tailor content based on criteria like user type, device type, and location, ensuring that your customers get the information most relevant to them. Some CDNs include the ability to pinpoint the location of a reader down to their longitude, latitude, continent, country, city, postal code, telephone area code, or metro code. That allows for delivering localized content like specific ads to a city or zip code; serving alternate versions of a site in different languages based on location and showing product availability based on the region; or serving an image size and quality based on the device it’s being used on. 

Modern CDNs also allow developers to use cookie-based technologies at the edge for building paywalls, which should be as unobtrusive as possible, as there is a significant risk of abandonment if the process takes too long for each request. Developers no longer have to use server-side capabilities, which are expensive, or client-side ones, which require trips to the origin that degrade performance and responsiveness

Cache more to deliver faster

With user expectations constantly growing, success often depends on editors being empowered to make content available the instant an article or video is approved for publication. Even brief delays can result in missed opportunities and can result in much lower placement at news aggregators.

Thus, low-latency delivery is required to attract viewers, keep them engaged, and get your content noticed. Highly dynamic digital content, is more efficiently and quickly processed at and served from the edge of the network. However, that is often far from where the content is stored in a content management system.

A modern delivery platform with dynamic site acceleration (DSA) can optimize delivery from origin to reader even over long distances. And through the use of network and protocol optimization, along with mechanisms that shield the origin from traffic surges, a DSA offering is capable of transporting dynamic content over long distances and with efficient speed.

The modern CDN’s ability to instantly purge and get real-time visibility into traffic helps companies cache a lot of content that would otherwise be uncacheable with traditional CDNs. Note that not all CDNs measure the time it takes to purge content in milliseconds and give you the flexibility to selectively purge content (as opposed to “purge all”).

Additionally, a modern CDN gives developers real-time visibility into stats and logs to program and monitor API performance. These mechanisms are powerful enablers for content delivery and help multiple facets of organizations' applications, including performance, origin offload, and overall insight.

Secure your sites and applications

Strict privacy laws are placing new limits on traditional digital publishing approaches. In order to enable compliance, digital publishers increasingly seek to control where content is viewed. One way to do this is to block traffic based on physical location and IP address, as well as identify virtual private network (VPN) traffic. A CDN should let you inspect entire HTTP/HTTPs requests, including headers, cookies, request path, client IP, and geo location, and take action within seconds to block traffic.

Bots also continue to be a security concern for digital publishers. These can scrape and republish content illegally, which greatly diminishes the content’s value for the original publisher. A modern CDN can help developers by working hand in hand with a web application firewall (WAF) that will examine a CDN’s log and recognize whether any one of a several thousand types of attacks is underway. Needless to say, developers should be able to configure WAFs to automatically take action to block an attack without human intervention.

A modern CDN with security baked into a single network for delivery — as opposed to, for example, one network for delivery and one for security — can also easily spot security anomalies and respond quickly, allowing developers to make comprehensive scaling decisions as attacks intensify, which is particularly useful when fending off DDoS attacks.

Is it time to rethink your CDN?

In a highly competitive market, digital publishers striving to stay relevant must have modern systems in place that deliver content to readers and aggregators the moment it’s ready. As you set out to architect and build your next delivery platform, be sure to evaluate how the right CDN can help you achieve your goals, and meet and exceed the expectations of your audience. Given increasing challenges, and rising consumer expectations, it’s critical to make smart investments in order to deliver fast, excellent audience experiences.

John Agger
Sr. Industry Marketing Manager, Media & Entertainment
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John Agger
Sr. Industry Marketing Manager, Media & Entertainment

John Agger is Fastly’s senior industry marketing manager for media and entertainment. He has been involved with digital media for more than two decades with a strong focus on publishing and streaming media workflows.

In his role, John works with key strategic accounts to bring awareness of Fastly’s increasing product line as they relate to M&E. Over the course of his career, John has also worked for Adobe, Dolby, IBM, and Ericsson on go-to-market strategies, awareness and sustainability.