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What Is a CDN and How Brands Benefit From It

What Is a CDN

More than 81% of businesses use video as a marketing tool, so publishers are up against a fierce competition nowadays. Wherever they go, consumers have a chance to interact with branded videos. This means that companies need to deliver top-tier online videos to them. But to do that, marketers need to know the answer to one question: What is a CDN?

Whether they are aware of it or not, every web user interacts with a CDN on a daily basis. This is the backbone of the internet that we encounter while reading articles, making an online purchase, or scrolling down social media feeds. A CDN is especially useful for marketing as it enables brands to deliver high-definition videos.

So, no matter what you do on the internet or which content types you consume, a CDN will be behind every text, picture, audio, and video. This is how companies ensure customers get the best user experience and receive content as soon as they interact with it.

To understand this further, we will break down what a CDN is, how it works, and more in our article!

What Is CDN?

A content delivery network (CDN), also known as a content distribution network, refers to a geographically distributed network of servers and data centers. They all work together to provide faster content delivery, security, and availability to web users by reducing the physical distance between the server and website visitors. So, no matter where they are, all users get to view content of the same quality.

This is how CDNs work in practice:

CNDs first emerged in the late 1990s as a means for eliminating the performance bottlenecks that slowed down the Internet. Ever since then, the use of these networks has expanded and they now serve a large portion of the web content, including:

  • Applications
  • Text, graphics, and scripts
  • Live streaming media
  • Downloadable objects (software, media files)

So, what is a CDN? It is an invaluable system that keeps your customers satisfied and ensures that your website content appears as quick as a flash on users’ screens.

Now that we’ve gone over the basics, let’s see how a CDN works!

How Does a CDN Work?

Typically, a content delivery network deals with text, pictures, and videos. However, companies mostly use CDNs to distribute large files. The reason for this is that the internet isn’t exactly automatic, i.e. customers won’t always receive information instantaneously.

You’ve probably been through that before. You visit a website for the first time, decide to check out the videos it hosts, and for some reason it takes longer than usual for the page to load. Now, you can’t blame your internet connection for this only. The speed at which you receive and consume content depends on the number of “stops” that content needs to make. For instance, if it is hosted on a distant server, you can expect the page to load slowly.

A high-quality content distribution network can streamline that entire process.

As you know by now, a CDN consists of a group of servers whose goal is to deliver content as quickly and securely as possible. To deliver a seamless user experience, it will place numerous servers at the exchange points between different networks.

Here’s more on how a content delivery network works…

CDNs: Better Loading Times = Improved User Experience

There is no question about it — better loading times equals improved user experience. In fact, 47% of customers expect web pages to load in two seconds or less! In addition to that, around 40% of users will abandon your website if they have to wait more than three seconds for it to load. The need for speed is high on the internet and this is where a content distribution network comes into play!

A CND increases the speed of your website by caching content in multiple geographical locations all over the world. These locations are known as points of presence (PoPs) and each of them consists of caching servers that deliver content to visitors within their reach.

Basically, this means that your static content won’t be only stored on the origin server. Copies of your website assets are saved in a content distribution network as well. So, when a customer visits your website, their browser will access a server located nearest to them to ensure fast delivery of assets.

For instance, let’s say that your origin server is in the USA and you have a visitor accessing your website from the UK. A user requests content from a specific web page which a CDN forwards to the closest PoP. If the assets are stored in that PoP, then your chosen CDN delivers those assets to the visitor. This is much faster than waiting for the user’s request to reach the origin server.

Who Uses a CDN?

Content delivery networks are quite popular today. Indeed, they serve more than half of all traffic nowadays. Just take a look at these numbers:

As you see, the figures will increase in the upcoming years. After all, most businesses now have an active online presence. In order to deliver their content fast, they rely on CDNs located across the world.

So, if you run an internet-based business, you will benefit greatly from content distribution networks, especially as you know that customers don’t appreciate slow loading times.

However, these networks aren’t for everyone. Those companies that have websites that serve visitors from one location don’t need CDNs. Introducing numerous connection points might even worsen the performance of their sites. In this case, they can only use their origin server to deliver content to their customers.

Still, most websites operate on a global scale, attracting people from all over the world. Content delivery networks are especially popular in the following industries:

  • Marketing
  • Advertising
  • Online gaming
  • E-commerce
  • Online gaming

Why Should Your Brand Choose a CDN Provider?

The answer to this question is obvious. By connecting to a network of servers, CDNs improve user experience and ensure customers gain access to your content almost as soon as they make a request. But they do more than that.

Let’s take a look why you should choose a CDN provider if your business operates on a larger scale:

  • Reduces Bandwidth Consumption — As you know, some hosting services charge a lot for bandwidth. You can reduce the costs and bandwidth consumption by enabling multiple points of presence to handle your traffic. These servers cache data from your website which means your origin server doesn’t need to deal with every request for content.
  • Increases Speed and Performance — One of the main reasons users leave a website is latency. When customers interact with your content, they expect not to encounter slow loading pages. Content delivery networks store your website assets and deliver content closer to the end user.
  • Improves Security — If only the origin server transfers all of  your data, this makes your website more vulnerable to malicious attempts, including distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks. CDNs provide greater security and can prevent attacks that disrupt the normal traffic of a server.

Final Thoughts

As your business and online presence grows, your loyal customers expect to receive the same, if not improved, level of service. They won’t have any tolerance for security breaches, slow loading times, and other issues you may encounter as your company expands. That’s why investing in a content distribution network will be a wise move.

So, deliver only the best to your consumers and reap the benefits of CDNs!

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