With a motto of “making mobile advertising better,” ClicksMob seeks to differentiate itself in the ad-tech arena by providing a high-quality mobile platform on a global scale. The firm offers a marketplace for advertisers and publishers to buy and deliver mobile traffic. In essence, it acts as a broker between the two parties, helping advertisers—including app developers—achieve the greatest number of downloads and publishers increase traffic. It has conducted thousands of campaigns across iOS, Android, and Windows Phone platforms, and generates billions of clicks a month. Its rapid success has put it on Forbes’ list of America’s 100 Most Promising Companies, ranking number 28. It has offices in Tel Aviv in Israel, and San Francisco in the U.S.
With a focused research and development (R&D) team, the self-funded company knew that enabling ambitious growth plans would be a challenge from day one. It needed to make the best possible use of its resources. “Our constant challenge is coping with increasing traffic while maintaining service continuity for our advertisers and publishers,” says Guy Raz Nir, research and development manager at ClicksMob. “In 2015 alone, we saw a 400 percent increase in the amount of traffic our platform handled.” However, keeping up with this rate of growth was proving difficult with its existing infrastructure, which was partly based on leased physical servers. Nir says, “We were looking for reliable, scalable, managed services that would help us set up a complex system that could handle high loads without having to invest time and effort setting up and maintaining it.”
Why Amazon Web Services
While it had used Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) in parts of its infrastructure from the start of operations in 2013, ClicksMob also ran a large PostgreSQL database on a physical server provided by a global hosting provider. But with pressure building as the popularity of its service increased, the startup wanted to move from the constraints of hardware and extend its use of Amazon Web Services (AWS).
“The development of our new dashboard system—which provides web access to our customers—was a great opportunity to migrate our physical server to the cloud and make our architecture more responsive and agile. Because we were already using Amazon EC2, AWS was the natural choice for us,” says Nir.
The migration took one month and involved moving entirely to the AWS cloud. The development team avoided time-consuming coding tasks by using the AWS SDK for Java. In the back end, ClicksMob uses the fully managed Amazon DynamoDB, plus Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS) for PostgreSQL. It stores data in Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3), while Amazon Route 53 manages domain name system (DNS) services. The team uses Auto Scaling across the infrastructure to take care of capacity provisioning, and Elastic Load Balancing automatically distributes loads between EC2 instances. The system is designed to serve tens of millions of requests each day, and Amazon Kinesis streams this data in real-time. The company saves infrastructure management time by using the AWS CodeCommit source control service. Its AWS resources sit within an Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (Amazon VPC), while the infrastructure runs across multiple Availability Zones in AWS regions US East (North Virginia) and US West (Oregon).
“We got great support from the AWS architectural advisers during implementation,” says Nir. “It helped us to move our infrastructure to the cloud easily.”
The managed element of the cloud infrastructure—which was such an essential part of ClicksMob’s initial requirements—had an immediate impact on Nir and his team. “IT maintenance reduced to almost zero after we migrated to AWS. With tools like Auto Scaling, the system can essentially take care of itself. As a result, we’ve cut expenditure by around 40 percent,” he says.
Running its operations on AWS has given ClicksMob the agility to scale on-demand, providing a reliable service for customers around the world. “We have 99.999 percent availability,” says Nir, “so we’re confident in providing a consistent service to our customers. We can scale as much as we need to, which makes it easy to cope with constantly increasing levels of traffic.”
He continues, “The flexibility we get from working with AWS means we can seek out new opportunities without fear of overloading our system. We can offer our advertising partners new traffic sources or types—ones that we couldn’t offer before through fear of not being able to manage the extra demand on the system that this would generate. For example, we’ve witnessed spikes in traffic of up to 80 percent, and the system has had no problems scaling to accommodate this.”
With AWS supporting the company’s growth and helping the startup keep operations lean, Nir and his team are free to concentrate on developing services. “Because our AWS infrastructure is so easy to manage, it’s allowed us to focus on software development and system improvements,” he says. “As a result, we’ve reduced our time to market by 20 percent.”
AWS is playing a central role in helping ClicksMob make mobile advertising better and differentiate its offering in a fast-moving market. Nir says, “The ease of access to data and rapid deployment we have with AWS allow us to analyze the clicks we’re getting and identify low-quality or fraudulent traffic. This offers significant value to our partners because they receive only legitimate, high-quality traffic. It’s a compelling reason for them to use our platform and gives us a competitive advantage.”
Nir reflects on ClicksMob’s journey so far with AWS, and its plans for the future: “Moving our infrastructure to AWS has proven to be very beneficial for us. We’re already exploring a new architecture based on AWS products that will allow us to support an even greater scale of traffic. In addition, we’re looking at services like Amazon Machine Learning for analysis and Amazon Redshift for business intelligence. This will give us better insight into the huge amounts of data that pass through our platform.”
He concludes, “We strongly recommend AWS to all businesses that have ambitious growth plans.”
“Using AWS and its high availability and durability, we’re confident in providing a consistent service to our customers. We can scale as much as we need to, which makes it easy to cope with constantly increasing levels of traffic.”
Avishai Shoshan, CEO