Keep Ads Real (Time)

How an Ad-Tech Giant Looked Beyond Open Source to Speed its Real Time Data Operations While Slashing its Server Count

Table of Contents

  1. Setup and Benefits Summary
  2. Challenge or Opportunity
  3. Solution
  4. Process/Approach
  5. Result
  6. Retrospective and Lessons Learned

1. Setup and Benefits Summary

The online advertising industry relies on massive amounts of data to make decisions in milliseconds to serve up advertisements that deliver the best value for their customers and publishers and which, ideally, are relevant to users. Unfortunately, this can stretch both data center infrastructure and the software platforms they rely on.

Criteo is one of the world’s biggest ad-tech firms, with over $2.25 billion in revenue last year. The Paris-based company has a chain of data centers worldwide and serves up more than 5 billion ads a day. Maintaining its competitive edge means constant pressure to better leverage its data and infrastructure to make decisions quickly.

Faced with the challenge of reducing latency in its real-time data ops and scaling up its operations, it chose Aerospike’s Real-time Data Platform, which aims to power real-time applications with predictable sub-millisecond performance. Aerospike’s technology is optimized for non-volatile memory, offering a cost-effective alternative to in-memory database options that rely on expensive DRAM. The transition to NVMe-based servers will also result in a massive reduction in the number of servers Criteo needs to power its real-time operations.

Key Findings:
Adopting Aerospike reduced average latency and allowed Criteo to meet its key objective of sub-millisecond latency at the 99th percentile, enabling it to respond much faster to advertisement requests and freeing up time for additional inference and decision making.

The project meant it could reduce complexity in its key-value architecture, which was previously based on an in-memory database. This means Criteo can adopt non-volatile memory and reduce the number of servers needed to run its real-time operations from 5,000 to 600 while increasing performance.

Adopting Aerospike and reducing the number of servers will deliver millions of dollars of savings each year.

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