Media company Morning Brew improved content delivery and facilitated rapid growth by building its website using AWS services and support from AWS Partner Vercel. Morning Brew delivers the latest news in an informative and witty style through multiple social channels. With a vision of expanding its online impact, Morning Brew needed a scalable solution that could support long-form content, incremental page loading, and a shared code base. Using Vercel’s solution—which is built on AWS services like AWS Lambda and Amazon S3—Morning Brew supports 45 million cache requests each month, with a hit rate of virtually 100 percent, and can launch a new brand in 2 weeks instead of 2 quarters.
Building a Scalable Solution for Morning Brew’s Growing Impact Using Vercel
Founded in 2015 with a newsletter to keep subscribers up-to-date on the latest news, media company Morning Brew wanted to expand its reach, with a vision of offering multiple brands and long-form content on supporting websites. To realize its aims, Morning Brew needed a scalable solution with a shared code base that would help the company grow quickly with a lean team.
In 2021, Morning Brew started developing its new website using Next.js, an open-source web-development framework. Next.js met Morning Brew’s need for incremental static regeneration, a feature that lets organizations recreate and cache individual web pages on demand instead of rebuilding the entire website. With over 16,500 articles on its website, Morning Brew prefers to incrementally build pages for better performance and an enhanced user experience. Morning Brew was already using Amazon Web Services (AWS) for its business and, for ease of deployment, chose to work its expansion directly with the creators of Next.js, AWS Partner Vercel.
We aren’t worried about serverless functions backed by services such as AWS Lambda because we know everything will run correctly.”
Senior Director of Engineering, Morning Brew
Simplifying the Process of Going Serverless Using AWS Lambda
Cloud technology company Vercel offers a developer solution for hosting websites and web services that deploy in near real time, scale automatically, and require virtually no supervision. Its solution is built on AWS services, including AWS Lambda, a serverless, event-driven compute service that lets companies run code for virtually any type of application or backend service without provisioning or managing servers. “Vercel is a simple way for customers to go serverless the right way using AWS,” says Drew Bredvick, sales engineering manager at Vercel. “We implement best practices from AWS and do the heavy lifting so that customers can focus on the product, iterate, and ship meaningful differentiation.”
Morning Brew’s previous website served as a landing page for visitors to subscribe to the newsletter and view an archive of past newsletter content. With the goal of modernizing its content delivery, the company saw an opportunity to show full articles, videos, and embedded podcasts on the website alongside newsletter content, so Morning Brew worked with Vercel to build a new one from scratch. By the middle of 2021, Morning Brew’s traffic had grown significantly enough that the company signed an enterprise contract with Vercel. In January 2022, Morning Brew continued its rapid growth, expanding from a single brand domain to eight and launching several new franchises. Using Vercel, Morning Brew maintains a single code base, which significantly reduces maintenance and supports scalability because a change in one place carries through to all the company’s other domains. “Vercel is a great company with great support,” says Drew Monroe, senior director of engineering at Morning Brew. “The team is always eager to help fix something or suggest an optimization. It’s great knowing someone is thinking about you, cares about your system, and wants to make sure your uptime is good.”
Increasing Speed and Scalability While Reducing Operational Costs Using Vercel
Morning Brew wanted to prioritize the speed of its websites. There are many options for news content on the internet, and users often move on if a page takes more than 2–3 seconds to load. Using AWS Global Accelerator—a networking service that helps improve the availability, performance, and security of public applications using the AWS global network—Vercel automatically routes users to the closest Vercel region to serve content with the highest possible performance. As a result, Morning Brew’s website provides a better user experience, loading pages in just over 1 second, and attains strong core web vitals. Using Vercel’s on-demand incremental static regeneration—which is built using AWS Lambda and Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3), an object storage service built to retrieve any amount of data from anywhere—Morning Brew supports 45 million cache requests every month. The company has a hit rate of virtually 100 percent, which means that the cache is fulfilling virtually all content requests.
Morning Brew also achieves scalability and rapid growth using Vercel’s solution built on AWS services. “Using Vercel, Morning Brew doesn’t need to worry about traffic spikes when a newsletter goes out because AWS technology scales to handle the volume,” says Bredvick. As of 2023, Morning Brew has had over 4 million active newsletter subscribers at a given time and 3 million monthly web users. Its subscriber base for its newsletters has doubled since 2021. By working with Vercel to set up a strong foundation for the original website, Morning Brew is poised for more growth. In the first quarter of 2022, Morning Brew launched six new domains using the same code base to support unique branding. “Using Next.js, we can build and maintain a mono repository, which supports quickly building and deploying new brands,” says Monroe. “We can modify or tweak design variables using shared components and still launch in 2 weeks rather than 2 quarters.”
Because of the reliability of Vercel and AWS services, Morning Brew can maintain a lean engineering team even with an increasing volume of traffic. “We aren’t worried about serverless functions backed by services such as AWS Lambda because we know everything will run correctly,” says Monroe. The Preview Deployments feature from Vercel, which is built using AWS Lambda and Amazon S3, helps Morning Brew see the impact of a change before it is shipped to production so that the company can prevent issues from impacting end users. Using the Vercel command-line interface, developers for Morning Brew can pull environment variables onto their local machines, simplifying the process and making it more efficient for developers to get started on the system. “The workflow of using Vercel is seamless,” says Monroe. “It reduces operational costs for us by at least $130,000 a year because we don’t need to hire a site reliability engineer or DevOps engineer to build and manage staging and production environments.” Since beginning to use Vercel, Morning Brew has significantly increased its revenue, bringing in $50 million in 2021—more than double the previous year’s revenue.
Using Vercel, Morning Brew doesn’t need to worry about traffic spikes when a newsletter goes out because AWS technology scales to handle the volume.”
Senior Director of Engineering, Morning Brew
Achieving Operational Efficiencies with Content-Management Systems Hosted in Vercel
Now that Morning Brew has a strong foundation for its websites, the company plans to focus further on achieving optimal operational efficiency. For example, Morning Brew is launching an ad-management system hosted in Vercel that will reduce complexity and increase efficiency for the company’s staff. “Since using Vercel, the end user experience has been fantastic and continues to be fantastic,” says Monroe. “With limited development resources at Morning Brew, it’s nice knowing that we don’t need to monitor core web vitals every week. We’re less worried about page speed knowing that Vercel is doing the heavy lifting. The developer experience has also been fantastic and reduces the need for DevOps or staff managing deployments.”
About Morning Brew
Media company Morning Brew delivers the latest news in an informative and witty style. Across multiple social channels, Morning Brew provides content through video, podcasts, and newsletters. Founded in 2015, Morning Brew has since launched several new brand domains, including HR Brew and CFO Brew.
AWS Services Used
- Grew from a single brand domain to eight in 1 quarter
- Doubled subscriber base in just over 2 years
- $130,000 a year saved in operational costs
- Reduced time to launch a new brand from 2 quarters to 2 weeks
About AWS Partner Vercel
Cloud technology company Vercel is the creator of Next.js, an open-source web-development framework. Vercel offers a cloud solution that empowers developers to host websites and web services that deploy in near real time, scale automatically, and require virtually no supervision.
Published July 2023