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What Super Bowl Ads Can Teach About Building A Championship-caliber Online Presence

As a New Hampshire-based company (now Oracle GBU), spirits were pretty high around the office following the New England Patriots epic Super Bowl win. But it wasn’t long before chatter over our much-needed coffee turned from discussing that amazing comeback and display of mental toughness to those all-important Super Bowl ads and the companies behind them, specifically the web traffic those ads generated.

An increasing trend over the last few years has been the integration of online digital media with Super Bowl ads. Given that ads run an average of $5M for a 30 second spot, it makes sense that brands would want to maximize their investment by creating buzz and converting that buzz into action via their web properties. For example, this year saw Budweiser promote their iconic Clydesdale commercial on Facebook, rather than show it during the break (to the chagrin of many on Twitter). But perhaps the most talked-about ad that used this technique was the 84 Lumber “Journey 84” commercial, which featured a documentary style story, inviting viewers to watch the rest of the story online via journey84.com.

Google Trends shows this commercial as one of the top 5 rising queries related to Super Bowl ads, and the only brand-related search in the top 20 related search queries overall. The ad has certainly caused a stir (which we won’t get into here), that is, if you were able to watch it. As Dyn’s Chris Baker pointed out in a tweet, traffic overwhelmed 84 Lumber’s digital infrastructure for this campaign, leaving many at least temporarily in the dark. AVclub.com reports “Ad agency Brunnerworks, which created the spot, says the 84 Lumber website received 300,000 hits within a minute of the TV spot’s airing, crashing the site for about 10 minutes.” While the post-event buzz has fueled plenty of attention for the ad, others may not have been so lucky.

For example, data from Dyn’s Gauge Chrome browser extension shows the DNS latency for GoDaddy.com spiked by 14% during the Super Bowl. Given that DNS queries can account for nearly 30% of total page load times for many sites, this can have a pretty significant impact on overall site performance.

The good news is that brands seem to be learning from these issues and improving their online infrastructure. A Dyn blog post on the eve of the 2014 Super Bowl points out that 13 websites crashed under the load of Super Bowl ad generated traffic in the previous year.  Now, obviously, not every brand runs a Super Bowl ad (even if it feels like it), but the internet infrastructure lessons that can be learned from those that do are important for every brand, site and web application:

  1. Rethink DNS: DNS and the Super Bowl aren’t phrases often uttered in the same sentence, but given the importance of DNS for page load latency and the role of managed DNS in global load balancing, your digital experience literally starts with DNS.
  2. Global Load Balancing: Effective management and balancing of Internet traffic to and from your data centers, CDNs and cloud service providers has become critical to delivering a superior digital experience. Not only can it be used to balance traffic load across your assets, but geo location and internet performance data can be used to direct users to the most optimal sites.
  3. Multi-Everything: Adopting a multi-CDN or multi-cloud can boost resilience and performance. For example, using Dyn’s Active Failover capability can shift traffic from non-responding resources to ensure your users reach your content, while geo load balancing can shape traffic to the best CDN or cloud location based on your user’s location.

This year’s dramatic Super Bowl shows the importance of having a solid game plan that can adjust to the pressures of the moment. When it comes to your internet infrastructure, you need a game plan to tackle everyday volatility, with the agility to adjust to unexpected spikes.


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Whois: Trip Kucera

Trip Kucera is a Director, Marketing Communications at Oracle Dyn Global Business Unit, a pioneer in managed DNS and a leader in cloud-based infrastructure that connects users with digital content and experiences across a global internet.