@CloudExpo Authors: Pat Romanski, Elizabeth White, William Schmarzo, Carmen Gonzalez, Yeshim Deniz

Related Topics: Java IoT, Microservices Expo, IoT User Interface, Agile Computing, Release Management , @CloudExpo

Java IoT: Article

Super Bowl Sunday 2013 – Winners, Losers, and Casualties

Since the late 1990s, Super Bowl advertisers have tried to successfully link their TV ads to their online properties

No matter which team you were cheering for (or if you even watched the game at all), Super Bowl Sunday 2013 was more than a football game. Since the late 1990s, Super Bowl advertisers have tried to successfully link their TV ads to their online properties, sometimes with mixed results. Even 15 years later, companies can't always predict how well their sites will perform on the big day. But unlike the early days of TV/online campaigns, the problems are more complex than a site going down under heavy traffic.

This year, some of the world's premier brands spent millions of dollars on 30 second and one-minute ad blocks (as well as millions for the creation of the ads) during the Super Bowl, all of which were tied directly to online or social media campaigns. However, not all the sites successfully resisted the onslaught of traffic.

The measurement results from the Compuware network in the periods leading up to, and during, the Super Bowl showed some clear winners and losers in page load time. Events like the Super Bowl require high-frequency measurements, so we set our locations to collect data every five minutes to catch every variation in performance, no matter how fleeting.

For the period from 5 p.m. EST until 11 p.m. EST on Sunday, February 3, the top and bottom three sites were:

Top Three Performers

  1. Go Daddy
  2. Paramount
  3. Lincoln Motor Cars

Bottom 3 Performers

  1. Doritos
  2. Coca-Cola
  3. Universal Pictures

Top and Bottom Web Performers - Super Bowl 2013
All of these sites chose different approaches to delivering their message online. What we found through our analysis is that the issues that they encountered almost perfectly aligned with those that Compuware finds during every major online event.

You're Not Alone
The Super Bowl is often referred to as the perfect storm for web performance - a six-hour window, with the spotlight on your company for 30-60 seconds (or more if you bought many slots). However, the halo effect sees traffic to your site increase astronomically for the entire six hours while people prepare for your big unveiling.

But your company isn't the only one doing the same thing. And many (if not all) of the infrastructure components, datacenters, CDNs, ad providers, web analytics, and video streaming platforms you use are being used by other companies advertising during the Super Bowl.

Even if you have tested your entire site to what you think is your peak traffic volume (and beyond), remember that these shared services are all running at their maximum volume during the Super Bowl. All of the testing you did on your site can be undone by a third party that can't handle a peak load coming from two, three, or more customers simultaneously.

Lesson: Verify that your third-party services can effectively handle the maximum load from all of their customers all at once without degrading the performance of any of them.

Lose a Few Pounds
The performance solution isn't just on the third parties. It also relies on companies taking steps to focus on the most important aspect of Super Bowl Sunday online campaigns - getting people to your site. Sometimes this means that you have to make some compromises, perhaps streamline the delivery a little more than you otherwise would.

While the total amount of content is a key indicator of potential trouble - yes, big pages do tend to load more slowly than small pages - Compuware data showed that two of the three slowest sites drew content from more than 20 hosts and had over 100 objects on the page (with the slowest having over 200!). This complexity increases the likelihood that something will go wrong, and that if that happens, it could lead to a serious degradation in performance.

Lesson: While having a cool, interactive site for customers to come to is a big win for a massive marketing event like the Super Bowl, keeping a laser focus on delivering a successful experience sometimes mean leaving stuff out.

Have a Plan B (and Plan C, and Plan D...)
I know Murphy well. I have seen his work on many a customer site, whether they hired him or not. And when the inevitable red square (or flashing light or screaming siren) appears to announce a web performance problem, his name will always appear.

If you plan for a problem, when it happens, it's not a problem. If your selected CDN becomes congested due to a massive traffic influx that was not expected, have the ability to dynamically balance load between CDN providers. If an ad service or messaging platform begins to choke your site, have the ability to easily disable the offending hosts. If your cloud provider begins to rain on your parade, transfer load to the secondary provider you set up "just in case." If your dynamic page creation begins to crash your application servers, switch to a static HTML version that can be more easily delivered by your infrastructure.

If you have fallen back to Plan J, have an amusing error message that allows your customers to participate in the failure of your success. Heck, create a Twitter hashtag that says "#[your company]GoesBoom" and realize that any publicity is better than not being talked about at all.

Lesson: Murphy always puts his eggs in one basket. Learn from his mistake and plan for problems. Then test your plans. Then plan again. And test again. Wash, rinse, repeat until you have caught 95% of the possible scenarios. Then, have a plan to handle the remaining 5%.

Now What?
What have we learned from Super Bowl 2013? We have learned that during a period of peak traffic and high online interest, the performance issues that sites encounter are very consistent and predictable, with only the affected sites changing. But by taking some preventative steps, and having an emergency response plan, most of the performance issues can be predicted, planned for, and responded to when (not if) they appear.

When your company goes into the next big event, be it the Super Bowl or that one-day online sale, planning for the three items listed here will likely make you better prepared to bask in the success of the moment. We will be assisting you over the next few days by more deeply analyzing the performance of some of the top brand rivalries, in the Compuware version of the AdBowl.

More Stories By Stephen Pierzchala

With more than a decade in the web performance industry, Stephen Pierzchala has advised many organizations, from Fortune 500 to startups, in how to improve the performance of their web applications by helping them develop and evolve the unique speed, conversion, and customer experience metrics necessary to effectively measure, manage, and evolve online web and mobile applications that improve performance and increase revenue. Working on projects for top companies in the online retail, financial services, content delivery, ad-delivery, and enterprise software industries, he has developed new approaches to web performance data analysis. Stephen has led web performance methodology, CDN Assessment, SaaS load testing, technical troubleshooting, and performance assessments, demonstrating the value of the web performance. He noted for his technical analyses and knowledge of Web performance from the outside-in.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.

@CloudExpo Stories
In his session at Cloud Expo, Robert Cohen, an economist and senior fellow at the Economic Strategy Institute, will provide economic scenarios that describe how the rapid adoption of software-defined everything including cloud services, SDDC and open networking will change GDP, industry growth, productivity and jobs. This session will also include a drill down for several industries such as finance, social media, cloud service providers and pharmaceuticals.
Enterprises have been using both Big Data and virtualization for years. Until recently, however, most enterprises have not combined the two. Big Data's demands for higher levels of performance, the ability to control quality-of-service (QoS), and the ability to adhere to SLAs have kept it on bare metal, apart from the modern data center cloud. With recent technology innovations, we've seen the advantages of bare metal erode to such a degree that the enhanced flexibility and reduced costs that cl...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Niagara Networks will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Niagara Networks offers the highest port-density systems, and the most complete Next-Generation Network Visibility systems including Network Packet Brokers, Bypass Switches, and Network TAPs.
In today's uber-connected, consumer-centric, cloud-enabled, insights-driven, multi-device, global world, the focus of solutions has shifted from the product that is sold to the person who is buying the product or service. Enterprises have rebranded their business around the consumers of their products. The buyer is the person and the focus is not on the offering. The person is connected through multiple devices, wearables, at home, on the road, and in multiple locations, sometimes simultaneously...
Everyone knows that truly innovative companies learn as they go along, pushing boundaries in response to market changes and demands. What's more of a mystery is how to balance innovation on a fresh platform built from scratch with the legacy tech stack, product suite and customers that continue to serve as the business' foundation. In his General Session at 19th Cloud Expo, Michael Chambliss, Head of Engineering at ReadyTalk, will discuss why and how ReadyTalk diverted from healthy revenue an...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Transparent Cloud Computing (T-Cloud) Consortium will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. The Transparent Cloud Computing Consortium (T-Cloud Consortium) will conduct research activities into changes in the computing model as a result of collaboration between "device" and "cloud" and the creation of new value and markets through organic data proces...
SYS-CON Media announced today that @WebRTCSummit Blog, the largest WebRTC resource in the world, has been launched. @WebRTCSummit Blog offers top articles, news stories, and blog posts from the world's well-known experts and guarantees better exposure for its authors than any other publication. @WebRTCSummit Blog can be bookmarked ▸ Here @WebRTCSummit conference site can be bookmarked ▸ Here
Intelligent machines are here. Robots, self-driving cars, drones, bots and many IoT devices are becoming smarter with Machine Learning. In her session at @ThingsExpo, Sudha Jamthe, CEO of IoTDisruptions.com, will discuss the next wave of business disruption at the junction of IoT and AI, impacting many industries and set to change our lives, work and world as we know it.
Established in 1998, Calsoft is a leading software product engineering Services Company specializing in Storage, Networking, Virtualization and Cloud business verticals. Calsoft provides End-to-End Product Development, Quality Assurance Sustenance, Solution Engineering and Professional Services expertise to assist customers in achieving their product development and business goals. The company's deep domain knowledge of Storage, Virtualization, Networking and Cloud verticals helps in delivering ...
In the 21st century, security on the Internet has become one of the most important issues. We hear more and more about cyber-attacks on the websites of large corporations, banks and even small businesses. When online we’re concerned not only for our own safety but also our privacy. We have to know that hackers usually start their preparation by investigating the private information of admins – the habits, interests, visited websites and so on. On the other hand, our own security is in danger bec...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Hitrons Solutions will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Hitrons Solutions Inc. is distributor in the North American market for unique products and services of small and medium-size businesses, including cloud services and solutions, SEO marketing platforms, and mobile applications.
OnProcess Technology has announced it will be a featured speaker at @ThingsExpo, taking place November 1 - 3, 2016, in Santa Clara, California. Dan Gettens, OnProcess’ Chief Analytics Officer, will discuss how Internet of Things (IoT) data can be leveraged to predict product failures, improve uptime and slash costly inventory stock. @ThingsExpo is an annual gathering of IoT and cloud developers, practitioners and thought-leaders who exchange ideas and insights on topics ranging from Big Data in...
As companies adopt the cloud-to-streamline workflow, deployment hasn’t been very seamless because of IT concerns surrounding security risks. The cloud offers many benefits, but protecting and securing information can be tricky across multiple cloud providers and remains IT’s overall responsibility. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Simon Bain, CEO of SearchYourCloud, will address security compliance issues associated with cloud applications and how document-level encryption is critical for sup...
More and more companies are looking to microservices as an architectural pattern for breaking apart applications into more manageable pieces so that agile teams can deliver new features quicker and more effectively. What this pattern has done more than anything to date is spark organizational transformations, setting the foundation for future application development. In practice, however, there are a number of considerations to make that go beyond simply “build, ship, and run,” which changes ho...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Impiger Technologies will exhibit in Booth #109 at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Impiger Technologies is a world-class, enterprise software product engineering company specializing in Mobile Application Development, Cloud Applications, Microsoft Technology Solutions, Web Technology and Telecom Services. Impiger Technologies helps enterprises improve busi...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Enzu will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Enzu’s mission is to be the leading provider of enterprise cloud solutions worldwide. Enzu enables online businesses to use its IT infrastructure to their competitive advantage. By offering a suite of proven hosting and management services, Enzu wants companies to focus on the core of their online busine...
The explosion of new web/cloud/IoT-based applications and the data they generate are transforming our world right before our eyes. In this rush to adopt these new technologies, organizations are often ignoring fundamental questions concerning who owns the data and failing to ask for permission to conduct invasive surveillance of their customers. Organizations that are not transparent about how their systems gather data telemetry without offering shared data ownership risk product rejection, regu...
November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Penta Security is a leading vendor for data security solutions, including its encryption solution, D’Amo. By using FPE technology, D’Amo allows for the implementation of encryption technology to sensitive data fields without modification to schema in the database environment. With businesses having their data become increasingly more complicated in their mission-critical applications (such as ERP, CRM, HRM), continued ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Embotics, the cloud automation company, will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Embotics is the cloud automation company for IT organizations and service providers that need to improve provisioning or enable self-service capabilities. With a relentless focus on delivering a premier user experience and unmatched customer support, Embotics is the fas...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Cloudbric, a leading website security provider, will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Cloudbric is an elite full service website protection solution specifically designed for IT novices, entrepreneurs, and small and medium businesses. First launched in 2015, Cloudbric is based on the enterprise level Web Application Firewall by Penta Security Sys...