Tags, Scripts and Widgets Drag Website Loading Times Down

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With broadband speeds generally on the rise, why do some Web pages load so slowly?

The answer is that many websites are loaded with tags, analytics scripts and widgets that are collecting data or enabling users to share content. And some of those tags don't load very quickly.

The development team of Ghostery, an extension that logs tracking by online advertising companies and websites, released a list of the highest-latency tags and scripts it found, which slow down the complete loading of a Web page.

Ghostery's blog, The Purple Box, lists 10 tags that if used collectively on one Web page in succession, would slow down page loading by a whopping 22 seconds.

The data was collected from users who agreed to send anonymous data to Ghostery on what sort of tracking mechanisms they are encountering on the Web, a program it calls GhostRank. It also collected latency data for one in every 100 tags encountered.

"Out of the nearly 800 companies we watch, we pegged these guys as the ones that lag your browsing experience the most if you live in the USA," Ghostery wrote. "To this extent, we've dubbed them 'Lagtags'."

The lag is measured in milliseconds, which can be divided by 1,000 to get seconds. The biggest offender is from a website called Avalanchers, which Ghostery lists as "a platform to connect bloggers together and exchange audiences. They provide a content widget that publishers use to display stories from similar content providers."

Avalanchers appears to be a point for directing Web traffic to a series of other websites, many of which have racy photos. Its tag takes nearly four seconds to load, or about 3,913 milliseconds, according to Ghostery. No one from Avalanchers was immediately available to respond to Ghostery's findings.

Number two on Ghostery's list was Millennial Media at 2.6 seconds, followed by 2leep at 2.3; ShareASale, 2.0, Brand Affinity, 1.9, Adfusion, 1.9; Wahoha 1.9, GoDaddy Site Analytics, 1.8; Redux Media, 1.7; and Kitara Media, 1.6. Figures have been rounded, and the precise measurement can be found on The Purple Box's blog entry.

The figures only apply to tags that are accessed by a Web user in the U.S., although Ghostery is planning to release statistics collected from Ghostery users in the rest of the world.

Send news tips and comments to jeremy_kirk@idg.com

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