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Performance

Which Movie Ticket Site is the Fastest to Deliver Thor?

Just as online retailers count on the holiday shopping season to haul in most of their profits, the November-December window is a high profile time to premiere blockbuster Hollywood movies.

This month ushers in ?Thor: The Dark World,? the much anticipated ?Hunger Games? sequel, ?Catching Fire,? and ?Frozen,? the animated Disney musical introducing Princess Anna (she?s the 12th Disney Princess if you keep track of those kinds of things.)

On opening weekend, date night or during school vacation, the traditional approach of showing up to the theater 30 minutes before the movie just won?t hack it anymore. During peak times, getting movie tickets can be a competitive race to reserve the best seats in advance online.

So which movie ticket site delivers the goods the quickest?

Using our recently released Benchmark Tool, we analyzed the past 30 days of ticket sales for seven of the top movie websites. Your company can use this tool by setting up a free Yottaa account, giving you an ongoing health report on your eCommerce site compared to your competition over any period of time.

ONLINE MOVIE TICKET SALES (October-November 2013)

MovieTrends

The vertical axis is the Time to Interact, which is how long it takes from when the customer arrives at the website until the first moment he or she can buy tickets. Not everything may have been fully loaded at this point, but customers can now click, scroll or type and see the appropriate response.

In alphabetical order, here are the sites where we channeled some Hollywood magic:

  • Fandango.com — Partnered with AMC Theaters, this site sold 22 percent of “The Hunger Games” opening weekend tickets last year.
  • Film Metro — Distributes tickets to studios’ special advance movie screenings before they are released to the general public.
  • Gofobo — “See Moves First. Win Prizes Fast.”
  • Hollywood.com — Celebrity news and movie tickets.
  • Moviefone — Famous for those deep “movie voice” commercials. Owned by AOL.
  • MovieTickets.com — The “worldwide leader in advance movie ticketing.”
  • Wild About Movies — The “only politically incorrect movie website.”

(An astute observer may notice there are actually eight sites charted above. We had originally tracked an AOL movie site that has since been redirected to Moviefone.com.)

The higher the points on the above graph, the longer customers are waiting to plug in their credit card information. That wildly fluctuating pattern in blue is from Wild About Movies, which aims to be an edgy, irreverent (but not slow) site.

Analyzing the Results

Another way Yottaa?s Benchmark Tool monitors and reports on your website speed is with the Traffic Light chart. With a quick glance, you can see the sites categorized by Green (?superior web performance?), Yellow (?needs improvement?) and Red (?poor web performance?).  You can see the ongoing live monitoring of all these metrics on our Movie Tickets Benchmarks page.

MovieTrafficLight

As you can see, Wild About Movies and MovieTickets.com take nearly three times as long to process a sale than Film Metro and Gofobo. As earlier noted with the 30-day graph, Wild About Movies customers need to be extremely patient because their Time to Interact occasionally flirts with the half-minute barrier.

In online sales, every second matters. One study by Amazon.com determined that even a 100 millisecond delay (1/10th of a second) can result in a one percent drop in revenue. Google discovered that a mere 500 millisecond (half second) increase in search time resulted in a 20 percent drop in sales. (Read more on those studies here.)

Here?s a visual representation of how long some movie ticket customers are staring at a blank screen. Every screenshot is one second:

MovieFilmstrip

Taking a Deeper Look

Using Yottaa?s integrated website monitoring software, you can quickly pinpoint where, when and why your site is slower than it should be. Our Benchmark Tool continuously samples data from servers across the country, showing you what it looks like when your customers see your site.

This random sampling of the Wild About Movies home page taken on Oct. 23 in San Francisco took nearly 26 seconds for the site to be operational in a Chrome browser:

MovieYottaaScore

At this critical shopping moment, 91 percent of all websites were performing better. Why?

The optimal number of JavaScripts for a superior performing website is 8 with a total weight of around 116 KB. The Wild About Movies page contains 62 JavaScripts with a weight of 339 KB. This page also is overloaded with visuals. The typical count for images is 25, while here it is 69 images ? nearly three times as recommended.

A closer look at the site?s Waterfall Chart (found by scrolling down on the Benchmark page), confirms that too many JavaScripts and image files (.jpgs, .gifs and .pngs) are to blame. The horizontal bars on the partial Waterfall Chart below compares the loading speed of each individual asset. The vertical Green (Time to Title), Orange (Time to Start Render), blue (Time to Display) and Red (Time to Interactivity) lines mark the customer?s total waiting time.

MovieWaterfall

Third party scripts can often inadvertently wreak havoc with web performance. Another sampling of an exceptionally slow Fandango interaction time (24 seconds) was completely due to a sluggish Facebook connect feature:

MovieAssetDetail

Taking the Next Step

A large number of assets, regardless of size, can significantly slow down a website. This is what has been periodically dragging Wild About Movies.  Looking closely at the Waterfall Chart metrics (see them live by scrolling down here), the individual loading times of 118 milliseconds or 226 milliseconds don?t seem like much. But when there are 194 separate requests, it all adds up.

Whenever possible, you should combine multiple assets so they load with a single request rather than individually. Combining JavaScripts or rewriting them so they load asynchronously will help speed things up. Ditto for reducing the number of total images and decreasing the size of large images for web resolution.

IT managers can manually make all of these adjustments or take advantage of the Yottaa Optimizer, which automatically monitors and reduces page loading times 24/7.

Either way, whether you plan to watch icy princesses, hungry archers or courageous comic book heroes this holiday season, don?t let poor web optimization sour your experience. Customer service online is just as important as a smile at the popcorn counter.

(Movies, Shmovies! Figure out how to boost your eCommerce site now with our free eBook, ?How to Identify 10 Web Performance Problems in 10 Seconds.? Download now.)

 

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