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Coke, SodaStream & the 13 Websites That Crashed During Super Bowl 2013

Bob Buffone
Bob Buffone on Feb 4, 2013 3:33:00 PM

 

The Superdome losing power wasn't only the major outage of Super Bowl XLVII. Thirteen - that's right, thirteen - Super Bowl advertisers' websites went down for this year's #BurstBowl. Last Friday, we put out predictions for which websites we thought would crash. We accurately predicted with three out of our five picks (boo ya!). So let's take a look at the biggest busts of the night.

 

CokeCoke #BurstBowl Website Performance in North America

Coke #BurstBowl Website Performance by U.S. Cities

 

We predicted Coke as the #1 most likely website to crash last Friday. It turned out to be a good call on our part, as Coke had the worst performance of the night by far. Coke took an interactive approach to their commercial, directing users to vote for the ending at www.cokechase.com. However, www.cokechase.com had a page load time average of 62 seconds - which was longer than their entire commercial! Since users expect websites to load in 2 seconds or less, they were not very happy. Hundreds of tweets from angry users came flooding in.

 

 

To make matters worse, Coke's main U.S. homepage only had 92% uptime for the night! This marks the second straight Super Bowl where Coke's website(s) has crashed. Can Coke learn from their mistakes or will they be having a 3-peat next year?

 

SodaStream

SodaStream #BurstBowl Website Performance in North America SodaStream #BurstBowl Website Performance by U.S. Cities

 

SodaStream created a lot of buzz with their ad showcasing their cool soda maker. Millions rushed to their website to check out more of the product. The surge in traffic instantly caused a spike in performance by 5 seconds! Soon enough, tweets came rolling in that the website was unavailable.

 

 

The Super Bowl advertiser rookie was unprepared for the burst in traffic and left many prospective customers with more to be desired.

 

Calvin Klein

Calvin Klein #BurstBowl Website Performance

 

GoDaddy wasn't the only Super Bowl advertiser to play off sex appeal in their advertisement, as Calvin Klein featured male models in nothing but their underwear. Users flocked to the website to see more of the, ahem - "product", but many were left disappointed as they could not access the website.

 

 

The website's performance increased by only 1 second over the ensuing hours, but a 1-second delay can decrease conversions by 7%! When it comes to the magnitude and scale of an event like the Super Bowl, every millisecond counts.

 

Axe

Axe #BurstBowl Website Performance

 

Axe launched one of the most buzzworthy ads of the night, as they are sending someone to space. Millions of aspiring (or wannabe) astronauts headed to www.axeapollo.com and www.axe.com to enter for their chance to win. The website, though, had a failure to launch. Houston, we have a problem. The website Axe sent people to, www.axeapollo.com, only had 88% uptime for the night and their homepage, www.axe.com, was only up for 93% of the time.

 

 

The Walking Dead

The Walking Dead #BurstBowl Website Performance

 

The Walking Dead's website turned into a ghost town (see what we did there?) during the game, just like we said it would last week. Even though they did not have a dedicated advertisement, they were featured in the Time Warner Cable commercial. Inconsistent performance over the past few weeks (pictured above) tells the whole story. A large number of requests (274) and page download size (3.5MB) resulted in the site being up for only 94% of the time all night.

 

Got Milk?

Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson couldn't save the Got Milk? website from the attack its website took from traffic last night. As we predicted, Got Milk?'s Breakfast Blitz at www.milkmoustache.com came crashing down during the Super Bowl. There was no major performance decrease, but its availability spiked downward, staying up only 94% of the time.

 

Movies (The Lone Ranger, Fast and Furious 6, and Star Trek)

Fast and Furious 6 #BurstBowl Website Performance

 

Over the past two years, movie websites have not performed too well. Last year, Act of Valor was the only movie website that crashed during the Super Bowl. This year, however, there were three: The Lone Ranger, Fast and Furious 6, and Star Trek. The Lone Ranger was the first ad up, and although its page load time stayed consistent, its uptime wasn't at 93%. Fast and Furious 6 was up next, and its performance took a massive hit after the airing of its commercial, more than doubling its page load time with only 97% uptime. The last one of the night, Star Trek, had the best performance out of the group with 98% uptime.

 

Iron Man #BurstBowl Website Performance

 

It's also interesting to point the performance of Iron Man. Though the website did not experience any outages or downtime, the website slowed down significantly - from 7.5 seconds to 20+ seconds, 3x as slow!

 

Cars (Audi, Hyundai, and Chrysler)

Hyundai #BurstBowl Website Performance

 

Audi was featured in the first commercial break of the night, and did not have any major outages, but had 1% of downtime - enough to include them on our list of crashers. Hyundai aired directly after Audi's advertisement, and maintained steady performance for a while. But later on in the night, the website became 2.5x slower and only had 98% uptime. The last of the group, Chrysler, ended up having the worst downtime of the group - a whopping total of 200+ outages recorded from our sample, which amounted to 93% uptime.

 

Blackberry

With the launch of the new, sleek Blackberry 10, users ventured to the website to check out the new gadget. The page is heavy in assets (3.5MB) and requests (143) - which puts it in the bottom 5% of all websites. The site maintained 97% uptime throughout the night.

 

Steps to Prevent Downtime in a Traffic Spike

Super Bowl advertisers need to be better prepared with their website performance and infrastructure to handle the burst in traffic they get after their ad airs. Here's a simple checklist they can use to improve their performance:

 

  • Reduce the number of assets and asset weight to create smaller, more lightweight pages with faster page load times
  • Use website performance monitoring to stay on top of any issues your website may be having 24x7
  • Enlist a CDN to better reach your users geographically across the world and offload the majority your traffic
  • Perform live load testing of your expected traffic, as it is the only way to gauge your actual performance under heavy load.

 

Did you experience any downtime or outages with one of the advertisers' websites? Let us know in the comments!

 

To check out the full results, you can head over to #BurstBowl.

Bob Buffone

Bob is currently the Co-founder and CTO of Yottaa. Before Yottaa, Bob was Chief Architect at Nexaweb. Through his work at Nexaweb, Bob became an industry leader in web performance and has been invited to many industry conferences such as JavaOne, the Server-Side Symposium, EclipseCon, ApacheCon, AjaxWorld and the Ajax Experience to speak on web performance. Before he joined Nexaweb in 2003, Bob was with Trakus, a technology company focused on tracking sports athletes in real time. At Trakus Bob designed a real-time distributed control system and many of its front-end applications. Before Trakus, Bob was at Cabletron designing network communications related software (FTP, TCP/IP, SMNP etc.). Specialties:Web Performance, Ajax, JavaScript, Java, J2EE, XML, .NET, COM/DCOM, SOA, XPATH, XSLT, Eclipse Plugin Development, Public Speaking, Techinical Writing