April 25, 2013, 4:57 PM

From the smartphone to the Strip

Vegas.com uses a service to speed page loads for visitors to its mobile site.

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Vegas.com knows that what happens on a smartphone, such as opening an e-mail, tends to stay on a smartphone, such as clicking a link in that e-mail to visit Vegas.com for more information.

And so, Vegas.com, a booking site for Las Vegas shows, hotels and attractions, wanted to make sure that potential tourists could not only view its marketing e-mail on mobile devices but easily view a web page that e-mail linked to. For example, if a consumer clicks on a link for a promotion for a suite at the MGM Grand, the booking site wants to be sure she lands on Vegas.com’s mobile-optimized site, not the full site which would load slowly and be difficult to navigate on a phone.

To do this, Vegas.com in mid-2012 implemented a service from content delivery network EdgeCast Networks Inc. that can detect the device a consumer is using and render the appropriate site. That means if a mobile consumer clicks on a link in a marketing e-mail sent by Vegas.com he will be directed to the mobile-optimized site.

The service also works for other e-mails Vegas.com sends to a desktop user that are forwarded on to another consumer who opens the e-mail on her smartphone, says Anthony Citrano, vice president of marketing for EdgeCast.

“Often, friends send each other links with deals that direct to a desktop site, but (the friend may) open the link on a phone,” Citrano says. “They are more likely to check out the deal if they are automatically directed to the device-optimized site. Otherwise, they'll be frustrated with longer loading times and a bad experience.”

The device-detection feature also goes beyond e-mail links.  For example, if a mobile phone user enters Vegas.com in her browser or is directed to Vegas.com through a mobile ad, she is automatically sent to the company’s mobile site at m.vegas.com.

In addition to the device-recognition technology, Vegas.com is using EdgeCast’s content delivery network to speed mobile page loads. Content delivery networks, or CDNs, store web page content on servers located around the world, and thus can deliver content from servers geographically close to the consumer, speeding up page load times.

“We have always used EdgeCast or another CDN for mobile because it improves the customer experience and increases conversion rate, particularly for users located farther away from our Southern Nevada data center,” says Bryan Allison, chief operating officer of Vegas.com. “Using EdgeCast, we have seen additional improvements in page load times.” Allison wouldn’t reveal specific changes in mobile conversions or page load times since using EdgeCast.

To implement EdgeCast’s content delivery services, Vegas.com uploaded heavy site content, such as video files and large objects, to EdgeCast's system. It then set up its sites (mobile and PC) within EdgeCast's portals, and changed the domain name server to point to EdgeCast servers near the consumer, rendering pages more quickly.

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