Why We’re Investing Resources Into Cloudflare Apps

19 February 2018 by Martin Delaney

CABack in 2010 I was walking out of ‘8 Canada Square’ (HSBC’s HQ in London) on a high. I had just said goodbye to my colleagues on the syndicated loans team after previously handing in my resignation. An exciting new life building my first company lay before me.

After I returned my security badge to the front desk and headed towards the revolving doors in the main lobby downstairs, I received a text message from one of my fellow co-founders that was entirely sobering; “We’re under attack! The site is down!”

At that moment in time our fledgling digital media business, Wahoha, was ‘ramen profitable’. Every penny counted, so we needed to fix the problem ASAP. The business and our livelihoods were at stake.

As it turned out we were the victims of a DDoS attack. Back then DDoS protection was not as accessible or as cheaply available as it is now for small companies. So, we had to fight the attack on our own; which we had reasonable success with for the duration of the assault over 3-4 very long days.

These days, Cloudflare has pretty much eliminated this existential risk for small and fledgling online businesses and start ups.

Due to Cloudflare, millions of website owners can sleep better at night knowing their livelihood cannot be taken down in an instant by a sudden DDoS attack (which would’ve been a boon for us back in 2010).

What’s more, they provide this and a number of other key services (notably a CDN) to website owners for free. Simply put, they’ve been a consistently disruptive website services provider since their founding.

So, last year when we heard they were ‘opening up’ their platform to allow third-party developers to tinker with service workers on their edge servers, we took this seriously and immediately decided to investigate.

Upon review, it became clear the app product possibilities that developers could build within their platform are both extensible and virtually endless (I recommend reading this, this and this for context).

In addition, a clear use case became apparent for Yavli – our ‘native ad network for ad blocker users’. So, we decided to build it and became a beta partner.

Although Yavli monetizes well for publishing partners in its ‘normal’ custom integration setup, it’s always had a major flaw with regards to the onboarding new clients; the website installation procedure.

The installation procedure, due to the technological methods needed to evade ad blocking software, was the surgical equivalent of open heart surgery. Many publishers were simply not comfortable with it.

Now we have built Yavli into a Cloudflare App, this dynamic has turned around completely. Our ad circumvention technology now both runs within and is deployed via Cloudflare. No more ‘open heart surgery’ is needed.

Within minutes, Cloudflare customers can have Yavli ads up and running on their site with no technical know-how or development time whatsoever. It just involves cutting and pasting a snippet of code into the Cloudflare dashboard and filling out a few URL fields.

It’s a phenomenal difference that makes me think and wonder what other app products could be built that would provide significant value to Cloudflare customers; either as an improvement over an existing service, or a new one entirely.

Due to the ease of installation, it’s a great ecosystem to test an idea quickly and the benefits of deploying code on the ‘edge’ offer new opportunities for external developers.

For the first half of Q1 we have been beta testing this new installation procudure with a few existing (and even new) Yavli customers who use Cloudflare. These publishers are adding significant ‘found revenue’ to their bottom line they never knew they could get. It works seamlessly.

So seamlessly, in fact, that a couple of our publishing partners initially didn’t believe us when we told them how simple the installation procedure was to get our ads up and running:

“There’s gotta be more to it than that?” one partner said. Nope, it’s really that straightforward.

If you’re an app developer looking for new opportunities, I recommend reviewing Cloudflare’s Developer Hub. Apps is currently a big internal initiative for the company, so you will receive support if you need it.

Next, we’ll release a Yavli App for the Cloudflare App marketplace to make installation even simpler. This will cut out the need to cut and paste a snippet of code entirely. One-click install! First, we have to wait for Cloudflare to expand their edge service workers beta program to their App marketplace.

If you’re a website owner/operator and would like to instantly generate a new revenue stream for your ad blocking audience, feel free to reach out. You can get in touch here or you can email our CEO Tom Yeomans: [email protected].