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Application monitoring, video games dominate internet traffic in first half of 2020

Increased focus on digital presence during lockdown likely to have prompted companies to invest more in ensuring and measuring application uptime and enhancing customer experience

Revealing what it described as a “very tumultuous” first half of the year for the networking industry due to the Covid-19 pandemic, network application and access firm NS1 has released traffic data showing “extraordinarily strong” application monitoring and video games sectors, which have benefited from masses more people staying at home and using computers since lockdowns were announced.

In making its analysis, NS1 has examined its customer traffic data, aggregated it by industry type and examined it for interesting trends. All data came from NS1’s query logging system – no outside data was used – and reflected a percentage increase month over month of queries to the DNS server.

While noting that a single query could represent one or multiple users from one location, NS1 said its data was subject to many variables that are hard to control – for example, time-to-live (TTL) values of records, caching by recursive resolvers and distribution of users, which affects caching. For example, it noted that a single person in an apartment building going to the NS1 website would generate as many DNS queries as 100 people in that same apartment building all going to the site at the same time.

Looking at the two areas which showed the greatest growth, NS1 found that in the application monitoring category – including companies that provide products and services to measure and monitor application performance and uptime – traffic growth was “extraordinarily strong”, with a sustained increase beginning in April. Overall, for the first half of 2020, traffic finished 66% above the same level a year ago. The study noted an increased focus on digital presence as companies may have decided to invest more in ensuring and measuring application uptime and enhancing customer experience.

Looking at companies that produce and sell video games, NS1 found the sector finished the first half of the year with growth, increasing by 82% compared with the same period a year ago. NS1 said the sector had seen a huge boost from people seeking entertainment while spending more time at home.

Interestingly, the e-commerce sector saw only modest growth in the first half of 2020. The category, comprising companies that sell products from an online store or provide software or services that help other companies sell products on the internet, did not show any significant change in traffic levels since January, with a change of 1.8%. NS1 reported that just over 60% of the companies in this category had seen growth since January, while the remainder saw decreases in traffic.

Interestingly, the study found a surge in traffic in April, but this was not sustained, and NS1 speculated that it was possibly caused by the injection of cash into the American economy via federal stimulus checks. NS1 stressed that in its study the e-commerce category did not represent traditional retailers which were now selling more online, and whose primary business was on the internet already.

Overall e-learning traffic was up 30% since January, peaking in late April at around 84%. NS1 said the large increase seen until May 2020 correlated with schools taking education online, as well as the decrease from May to June when some schools reached the end of their academic year. It also speculated that people may also be using the time they are homebound to learn new skills or prepare for tests and certifications.

Not surprisingly, the security sector saw significant growth in the first half of 2020, settling at a 41% increase in traffic since the beginning of the year.

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