“Collecting data is one thing. Being able to summarize it, analyze it, and make it available rapidly on an ad hoc basis is a huge advantage the Sybase Analytic Appliance delivers for our company and our customers.”
Chief Technology Officer
Founded in 1999, AdOn Network is one of the largest contextual and behavioral advertising networks online, providing innovative solutions to more than 1,000 national and international advertisers and publishers. Based in Tempe, Arizona, AdOn Network ranked 72nd on Entrepreneur Magazine's "Hot 500" list of 2007's fastest-growing companies in America. The company offers site-specific, contextual keyword and geo targeting as well as advertiser retargeting and conversion tracking to equip advertisers with powerful performance-based tools to maximize their revenues.
- Sybase Analytic Appliance allows AdOn Network to quickly
query large amounts of data, thereby helping publishers and advertisers
to maximize revenue and manage timely targeted promotions, respectively.
- Analyzes terabytes of data rapidly
- Enables AdOn Network to provide customers with previously unavailable information in a format they can use
- Empowers traffic inventory correlation with coverage to enhance campaign effectiveness, customer ROI, and revenue
- Business Services
Evaluating Data Warehouse and Analytics Solutions
AdOn Network provides a variety of online advertising formats including banner, text, pop-up, background and mobile ads and enables thousands of clients to create and manage their own ad campaigns. AdOn Network processes over one billion page views from over 42 million U.S. unique users each month, making it one of the largest online advertising networks in the world.
AdOn Network collects vast amounts of click-through and conversion data from the millions of ad impressions it serves daily. To provide targeted and measurable ad campaigns for its advertisers and publishers, the company must store and analyze this real-time and historical information, which comprises over a terabyte of data. “Our advertisers are demanding more targeting capabilities and the ability to define market segmentation at a more granular level,” says Bhaskar Ballapragada, AdOn Network’s chief technology officer. “Like every business, our customers closely manage their budgets, so they want more definable metrics on the response they’re getting. They also want tools for real-time analytics and reporting.”
AdOn Network recognized that its current technology was not up to the task. “Our conventional database systems are not designed to handle the substantial amounts of web traffic data generated from multiple forms of advertising,” says Ballapragada, “and we do not have a big staff to customize these systems or a large budget for a new data warehouse.” AdOn Network nonetheless needed to meet the challenge of storing and analyzing the volume of data the company was accumulating, so IT decision-makers began a search for a technology solution that would fit into the company’s IT architecture and meet its requirements for rapid data analysis and reporting.
After carefully evaluating a range of options for adding a combination of data warehousing and business intelligence to its technology platform, AdOn Network selected the Sybase Analytic Appliance. “None of the options compared to the Sybase appliance in terms of its ability to rapidly load large amounts of data and make it available for real-time querying,” he says. “The Sybase appliance performed extremely well in terms of its rapid query response time compared to other solutions. We also found it to be several times more affordable for the initial investment and ongoing maintenance.” Ballapragada adds that none of the other available solutions matched the capability the appliance offers to continuously load a large amount of data that would become available immediately for real-time queries. In addition, MicroStrategy’s scalable BI platform was ideally-suited for the company’s vast amounts of data and robust analytical requirements.
Sybase Analytic Appliance—Delivering Fast Time-to-Value
The Sybase Analytic Appliance runs on IBM Power Systems and includes the Sybase IQ analytics server, Sybase PowerDesigner, and MicroStrategy business intelligence (BI) software. It delivers all the benefits of a custom-built enterprise data warehouse (EDW) for approximately one-third the price of other leading solutions. Ballapragada says key factors in its selection were that the appliance provides fast time-to-value via a unified appliance console and pre-configured hardware, software and storage in one compact and power-efficient unit, with single vendor support. He says the Sybase solution also has the advantage of requiring lower initial and ongoing investment because, unlike row-based and parallel-computing counterparts, stored data in column-based Sybase IQ is compressed by up to 70 percent of its input size. The appliance does not require labor-intensive index tuning, which reduces overall maintenance costs, and its point-and-click console simplifies administration and monitoring.
“The appliance is cost-effective for us because it comes pre-configured, tuned, and ready to go,” says Ballapragada. “Not only would it have been significantly more expensive for us to buy these components independently, but if we had to build all of it ourselves it would have taken six to eight months. Instead, our development time was two weeks.”
Kory Kredit, vice president of marketing at AdOn Network says that because the company does business in a highly competitive market, it needs to operate as cost-effectively as possible. “The Sybase appliance helps us do that because it’s very cost-efficient technology that delivers measurable benefits for AdOn Network and our customers,” he says.
Regarding ease of use, Ballapragada reports that using the MicroStrategy BI software is intuitive and interactive, enabling the company to develop new reports in less than 15 minutes. Says Ballapragada, “It was exceptionally helpful to have MicroStrategy’s proven BI platform bundled with the appliance – MicroStrategy’s dashboarding capabilities are very impressive and well-suited to our requirements.” As for the reliability of the IBM platform, AdOn Network has had no downtime at all since going live with the appliance.
Providing Representatives with Rapid Operational Intelligence
AdOn Network’s targeting and ROI tracking system uses the Sybase Analytic Appliance to handle about 100 million ad requests per day, each of which generates 40 to 50 discrete pieces of information, such as keywords to match, demographic data, and the number of ads to serve. This information is loaded into the appliance in microbatch updates, which occur every 15 minutes. The system retains seven days of raw information and 30 days of summarized information online, exceeding a terabyte of online, accessible information. Via its MicroStrategy BI reporting component, the appliance generates 10 to 15 reports on a nightly, weekly and monthly basis. In this high-volume production environment, AdOn Network’s sole DBA is able to control all administration from a single appliance console.
“The appliance gives our customer service representatives the operational intelligence they need to report back to clients within hours of placing an ad with analyses based on both historical and real-time data—which is something we were unable to do before deploying the appliance,” says Ballapragada. Previously, if a client asked for traffic data from a specific time period, AdOn Network engineers would have to spend three or four days acquiring that data from access logs. “Now,” he says, “a customer representative simply runs a query in the appliance and we have results for the customer the same day. That is a huge benefit for our customer retention and acquisition.”
Ballapragada says the appliance also decreases AdOn Network’s troubleshooting time—time spent determining why a specific ad was or was not served—by more than 50 percent: “The appliance enables us to quickly analyze a range of parameters—such as whether the ad rotation is correct and what type of keywords were received—so that we can identify and correct any issues.”
Strengthening Relationships with Customers
Kredit says another key benefit the appliance provides is related to one of AdOn Network’s key differentiators—its personalized service and the strength of the relationships the company’s representatives form with customers. “It’s now common for customers to come to us with requests for information they can’t get from their own tech teams,” he says. “And we’re only too happy to use the appliance to get it for them quickly, because that only strengthens the relationship.”
Kredit says the appliance enables publishers to maximize their ad revenue and advertisers to benefit from timely, targeted and effective promotions. AdOn Network customers can take advantage of windows of opportunity to increase traffic and revenue from online ads. “For our advertisers,” he says, “the analytics the appliance conducts makes their campaigns more effective, resulting in higher return on their advertising dollars and greater sales.”
“Everything considered,” says Ballapragada, “this is one of the best technology decisions we’ve made, because the appliance has been easy to deploy and maintain, is very cost-effective, and adds tremendous value to our service.”