Millions of people will be watching the Super Bowl tonight. Actually, hundreds of millions of people around the world, according to the Nielsen ratings. That is why companies big and small shell out huge bucks to air a commercial. They know this is a rare opportunity to get their brand in front of such a mass audience.
But this night is also a big test for a company’s Internet performance. If a website or application crashes as a result of increased traffic due to a Super Bowl commercial, it sends a very strong message to their end users: we do not value you as a customer.
Last year, 13 websites crashed as a result Super Bowl commercial-related web traffic woes, likely costing them millions in revenue and brand awareness. While devastating, it’s also inexcusable.
For the past few years, our company has been undergoing a change. For years, companies and marketers have created content for a traditional consumer, mainly the family sitting on the couch watching the big game on their television. That consumer, moved by the commercial, would go to a store and buy the product they see that next week, month, or soon thereafter.
Those days are officially over. People consume information on multiple devices whenever and wherever they want. A 2013 Business Insider article reported that the average U.S. household has 5.7 Internet connected devices.
The Huffington Post previously published the graph below that shows people now spend more time online than they do in front of the television. Let me repeat that: people are spending more than five hours a day online.
And what are they doing online? They are discovering brands and buying products. You can also bet they’re telling all of their friends about the companies and products they like, and similarly sharing what companies are out of touch. Companies have to be aware of and respect this shift.
As the marketing research firm Millward Brown pointed out, there is no distinction between online, offline or mobile marketing in 2014. There is simply marketing. A website can be knocked off line for a multitude of unforeseen reasons. But a huge influx of traffic should never be one of them.
A website crashing means a company has neglected (or worse ignored) its online audience. And since there is no distinction between online or off, it has neglected (or worse ignored) its entire audience. Since we are now living in the golden age of user experience and subscription-based business models, retention is king.
If your website crashes the message you are sending loud and clear is that your website is not a priority. It has to be. In fact, it should be a greater priority than any other business entity you own.
If a company is willing to spend millions of dollars on a Super Bowl ad but not invest thousands of dollars a year to protect their online presence, they’re basically saying, “We do not have a grasp on or value the world we live in, but enjoy the ad anyway.”
If that is the case, their users will doubt they know what they’re talking about when it comes to a shirt, a soft drink or a movie. Business is built on trust. Don’t lose it on something that is completely preventable.
The days of pleading ignorance or naivety of the whole World Wide Web phenomenon are over. Companies either value the performance of their online presence or they don’t.
Sunday’s Super Bowl will be the ultimate test. Who will pass?