BuzzFeed uses new Fastly feature to optimize gif-heavy content

One of BuzzFeed’s most popular posts is also notorious among its engineers. “The 100 Greatest Gifs of all Time” has 100 gifs in it — and until recently, if you viewed that post on mobile, it was a sub-optimal experience that required you to press play on every single gif (not to mention the heavy bandwidth consumption by the end user).

“People are used to scrolling and having things autoplay. So it definitely broke from the normal experience and just wasn’t optimal,” Clément Huyghebaert, BuzzFeed’s director of engineering, recently told us.

With more than 70% of their traffic coming from mobile devices, BuzzFeed needed a better way to serve their gif-heavy content to an increasingly discerning audience that’s more likely to abandon a page the longer it takes to load.

Fastly's Image Optimizer team works closely with the folks at BuzzFeed, so we understood their animated gif challenges well. We saw this as an excellent opportunity to accelerate our development cycle and expand the Image Optimizer product based on the needs of a great customer. 

This new feature, available today, converts animated gifs to MP4 videos for faster load times, a smoother experience, and significant savings on end-users’ bandwidth. In fact, the new feature was able to condense the 250 MB, browser-freezing “100 Greatest Gifs of all Time” article to a much more manageable 6 MB. 

With this rollout, BuzzFeed is now using Fastly for all of its image optimization needs. “The Image Optimizer animated-gif-to-MP4 capability has definitely improved speed and bandwidth usage for us and our users,” Edgar Sanchez, BuzzFeed senior software engineer, told us.

BuzzFeed was built digital first as an online-only property, but others in the digital publishing and ecommerce worlds are experiencing similar challenges as more people turn to mobile to consume all things online. In fact, by 2025, three-quarters of users will access the internet solely from a mobile device, according to CNBC

Clearly, delivering a smooth video experience on mobile is integral to any digital transformation strategy. This isn’t true just for digital publishing though. For example, other use cases for the animated-gif-to-MP4 feature include more efficiently showcasing a 360-degree product spin animation for ecommerce sites, and optimizing demonstration videos on educational sites. These are prime examples of how the right content delivery partner can help accelerate a company’s digital transformation strategy.

“One of the things we welcome with Fastly Image Optimizer is how simple it is — the contract was clear, the set of features was very clear and exactly what we needed,” Clément told us. “Everything is well defined, and it makes my life as an engineer easier that way.”

Check out the new feature in your Image Optimizer dashboard, or explore more about Fastly Image Optimizer now. 

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