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With increasing broadband speeds and ubiquity of fiber deployment, it takes about one tenth of a second to deliver an ad. But a whole lot happens in that time period. Even small delays in this process can wreak havoc on winning bids and escalate ad costs. These delays can also contort and obscure efforts to account for the ad’s delivery and performance.

When it comes to infrastructure - speed, reliability and scalability are paramount. Today I’m going to lift the hood a bit on our infrastructure and everything we’ve done to make it one of the fastest possible.

There’s fast… and then there’s FAST.
If you want to cut latency down, you have to be able to “hold hands” directly with partners. This notion of “peering” with your advertising partners requires access to the routing fabric of the Internet. Having an AS (Autonomous System) number allows RhythmOne to send traffic through a fiber directly to DSPs and Internet Service Providers (and thus, consumers). By having our advertising technology in the same location as major internet exchanges (IX) allows us to cut through network congestion, traffic volatility and thus save on average of 13 milliseconds of time (taken for an ad to be returned from our tech platform). This gives us an overall advantage because a) it shortens the time it takes to serve an ad to the consumer (better user experience) b) it shortens the time it takes for an advertiser to participate in an auction (efficient marketplace). A good majority of players in the industry don’t climb the complexity ladder of having an independent AS number and instead rely on their cloud provider or ISP for network transit.

Another contributing factor that increases the speed at which we can conduct transactions is that our server to server interconnect use QDR Infiniband (56 Gb/s). Inifiniband is a technology which was designed for supercomputers to share CPU and memory - making a single large instance from many computers. It’s the interconnect technology that powers NASA or computers that do weather modeling. With Infiniband, one computer can talk to another faster than normally inside the circuit - from the memory to the CPU.  We are one of the few, if not only, Ad Tech company using QDR InfiniBand and it provides about 12x less latency vs others using traditional Ethernet interconnect.

For the consumer, it means faster ad load times (more view time for the ad). For advertisers and agencies – it means ensuring their bid is fully rendered before the auction closes. As the OpenRTB bidding protocol is based on an end to end transaction time of 120 milliseconds (the time it takes to blink your eye) – every millisecond “wasted” can translate to a lost bid. Speed also helps reduce discrepancies -  with less time and packet loss, the two partners’ numbers have a closer match.

 

Reliability and Scalability
Speed isn’t going to be worth much if uptime and reliability are your weak links. We’ve built in redundancies and have scalability to ensure our marketplace not only meets today’s demands but is also future-proofed.  In fact, with current demands, we’re only at 50% capacity.  Over the past several months, we have added multiple redundant 10Gb/s internet connections into our data centers. Our technology architecture is built on composable parts allowing for linear scalability. Together, this provides resiliency and eliminates single point of failures. With multiple data-centers in the east and west coast, we add a second layer of redundancy and reliability to our partners. In the last 12 months, we’ve increased our computing footprint of RhythmMax (our programmatic marketplace) by over 60%. This has helped increase the number of ads served to beyond 100M per day.

 

Trust in the marketplace
I’ve shared a lot of “geek speak” about our network. The takeaway for marketers, agencies and publishers is that in addition to offering speed and network reliability, we also have one of the largest supply footprints in the industry. And our RhythmMax platform includes proprietary pre- and post-bid filtering technology, RhythmGuard, which eliminates underperforming and objectionable traffic, in real time, before it reaches our marketplace.  While some exchanges might offer such things as refunds for fraud, RhythmOne is continually investing in our technology to protect brands prior to the ad getting served.  In April 2016. we ranked #5 in the US and #2 internationally on Pixalate’s Global Seller Trust Index™ - the rating standard for programmatic advertising delivering data-driven measurement of quality and security integrity of programmatic sellers.