What advantages does "the edge" hold for digital publishing?

Publishing from “the edge” means delivering your content as close to your reader as possible. It’s a huge leap from the legacy way of delivering content from on-premises servers at the origin. It’s in part made possible by distributed edge cloud networks and the ability to cache — and instantly purge — content (even content previously thought to be impossible to cache). 

By bringing your content closer to where it will be consumed, you bypass the conventional cost and rules associated with server space and infrastructure maintenance, and you gain some additional benefits made possible through edge computing as well. If you’re wondering how the edge can improve your publishing strategy, let’s talk specifics:

Improve response times
How quickly does your website respond to new users across the country or on the other side of the world? An optimized platform at the edge stores copies of your web page in servers globally, reducing the time to first byte (TTFB) of your web page and every subsequent content load thereafter. This not only increases user satisfaction, it can also improve typical SEO ranking by pushing your news to the top of search results. 

Publish — and update — instantly
Ever since the advent of cache, clearing it has been a problem. Stale or outdated content goes against what any digital publisher is all about. With an optimized edge publishing platform, copies of your content are instantly stored around the globe. So, when needed, you and your readers will benefit from its ability to purge or update in an instant.

Rapidly test and roll out new features
While there are many ways to roll out new features, certainly the easiest and most effective way is to execute rapid A/B tests right at the edge. Using a programmable caching layer, developers can easily route a small percentage of traffic to a test site or add a test header to expose a fraction of the readers to a new feature or headline before going live.

Make your paywall unintrusive 
Although subscribers may be warming to the idea of a paywall, they still want it to be a seamless, fast experience. By migrating your paywall to the edge, you can significantly increase the speed of reader validation to confirm variables such as identity, location, and subscription status.

Detect and deny ad blockers instantly
Ads continue to be the primary source of income for many digital publishers, and the proliferation of ad blockers is a serious challenge to the industry. A powerful publishing platform at the edge can quickly detect and deny traffic to any and all readers using ad blockers.

Target personalized content 
One of the benefits of the digital workflow and process is the immense flexibility it gives you as a content delivery service. By using powerful customer insights paired with a strong edge preflight system (to figure out who a user is when they request your website), you can tailor content to the reader and deliver it at high speeds. This includes ads as well as organic content.

Deliver right-sized assets
With the sheer number of devices existing today, building responsive websites to serve your digital content is no easy task. However, when using a powerful edge platform, you can automatically detect devices and help you steer your users to the correct application (mobile or web). This includes optimizing images for the right device, quality, and size automatically.

Success on the edge

Overall, technology continues to shift away from centralized infrastructures in order to better deliver fast, safe, and secure user experiences. Whether you already have an established content platform, or you’re planning to start from the ground up, you must take advantage of every bit of speed and power you can to bring your publication into the next phase of digital delivery to delight and retain. Check out how we can help.

Bridget Lane
Senior Software Developer
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Bridget Lane
Senior Software Developer

Bridget Lane is a senior engineer at Fastly focused on our backend API. She regularly works with Compute@Edge and Varnish. When not at work, you can find her training for triathlons, baking cookies, or exploring Washington, DC.