Media Optimization for Web

This article provides basic information about media optimization and the importance of optimizing media on the web.

Media Optimization

Media optimization is the process of leveraging settings, formats, or processes to reduce the file size of media. Media optimization is an important part of good internet hygiene: increasing efficiency and contributing to reductions in resources consumption. Additionally, media optimization reduces loads on data transmission requirements. Media optimization lowers overhead operating costs for organizations, enables greater accessibility to users in remote areas (or otherwise experiencing slow or poor network connections), and contributes to environmental protection by lowering physical demands.


Media optimization is important! Statistically, media comprises the overwhelming majority of a web page’s data. The page size contributions of text or content information are often negligible. This discrepancy is more severe on communication networks where media alone may comprise 80% or more of database loads. Any reductions to media size helps alleviate storage requirements, reduce resources consumption, and increase transfer speeds.

The majority of a website’s data is typically comprised of [media]. Website [media] optimization refines [media] so as to lighten pages, reduce load times and lessen the burden of network resources, including data usage in the case of mobile data plans.

The primary means by which media is optimized for web use is via compression. Compression involves methods to simplify or otherwise reduce the sizes of files while still delivering acceptable quality. Many media formats may tolerate reductions upwards of 50% in size with little to no loss in perceptible quality.

[Media compression] is a type of data compression applied to digital [files], to reduce their cost for storage or transmission.

Erasing Metadata

Compressing media doesn’t only reduce storage requirements or allow for faster and more functional transmission times, it also protects user and organization privacy. Good optimization or compression protocols will remove excess data or information which could be exploited to gain knowledge about users or organizations.

Metadata is information about a particular file and its creation, history, or settings. In the case of media files, metadata may include the names of device owners, device make and model, time-stamps of documented creation or modification, and sometimes even GPS coordinate data. In almost all cases, media metadata should be expunged!

Metadata means "data about data". Although the "meta" prefix means "after" or "beyond", it is used to mean "about" in epistemology. Metadata is defined as the data providing information about one or more aspects of the data; it is used to summarize basic information about data which can make tracking and working with specific data easier.
Compressed data may contain information about the image which may be used to categorize, search, or browse images. Such information may include color and texture statistics, small preview images, and author or copyright information.

Not only does metadata removal increase overall privacy and security, but it also reduces file sizes and transmission speeds! It's estimated that metadata accounts for approximately 15% of average media file size. This metadata isn't just wastefully occupying storage space, it's also needlessly being transmitted through cyberspace! Approximately 10% of all data downloaded by users is essentially junk!

…if each of [the top internet websites] were just visited once, nearly 13 GB of data could have been saved on the internet if these websites were handling the metadata properly!

Optimizing Media

Users have many ways in which they can contribute to media optimization. Some of the simplest methods by which users may optimize media are by choosing suitable file formats at conservative dimensions, resolutions, or bit-rates. Users may go further by leveraging lossy or lossless formats at varying levels of compression to deliver responsible balances between desired and/or required quality versus overall file size. Additionally, device and internet applications are available which provide data compression and metadata removal services. Furthermore, many multimedia programs might include export options with web optimization built in.