Agile Computing Authors: William Schmarzo, Liz McMillan, Carmen Gonzalez, Jim Kaskade, Lori MacVittie

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.

@ThingsExpo Stories
The Open Connectivity Foundation (OCF), sponsor of the IoTivity open source project, and AllSeen Alliance, which provides the AllJoyn® open source IoT framework, today announced that the two organizations’ boards have approved a merger under the OCF name and bylaws. This merger will advance interoperability between connected devices from both groups, enabling the full operating potential of IoT and representing a significant step towards a connected ecosystem.
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...
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.
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...
Smart Cities are here to stay, but for their promise to be delivered, the data they produce must not be put in new siloes. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Mathias Herberts, Co-founder and CTO of Cityzen Data, will deep dive into best practices that will ensure a successful smart city journey.
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...
Successful digital transformation requires new organizational competencies and capabilities. Research tells us that the biggest impediment to successful transformation is human; consequently, the biggest enabler is a properly skilled and empowered workforce. In the digital age, new individual and collective competencies are required. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Bob Newhouse, CEO and founder of Agilitiv, will draw together recent research and lessons learned from emerging and established ...
Data is the fuel that drives the machine learning algorithmic engines and ultimately provides the business value. In his session at Cloud Expo, Ed Featherston, a director and senior enterprise architect at Collaborative Consulting, will discuss the key considerations around quality, volume, timeliness, and pedigree that must be dealt with in order to properly fuel that engine.
SYS-CON Events announced today that MathFreeOn 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. MathFreeOn is Software as a Service (SaaS) used in Engineering and Math education. Write scripts and solve math problems online. MathFreeOn provides online courses for beginners or amateurs who have difficulties in writing scripts. In accordance with various mathematical topics, there are more tha...
The best way to leverage your Cloud Expo presence as a sponsor and exhibitor is to plan your news announcements around our events. The press covering Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo will have access to these releases and will amplify your news announcements. More than two dozen Cloud companies either set deals at our shows or have announced their mergers and acquisitions at Cloud Expo. Product announcements during our show provide your company with the most reach through our targeted audiences.
In his general session at 19th Cloud Expo, Manish Dixit, VP of Product and Engineering at Dice, will discuss how Dice leverages data insights and tools to help both tech professionals and recruiters better understand how skills relate to each other and which skills are in high demand using interactive visualizations and salary indicator tools to maximize earning potential. Manish Dixit is VP of Product and Engineering at Dice. As the leader of the Product, Engineering and Data Sciences team a...
Virgil consists of an open-source encryption library, which implements Cryptographic Message Syntax (CMS) and Elliptic Curve Integrated Encryption Scheme (ECIES) (including RSA schema), a Key Management API, and a cloud-based Key Management Service (Virgil Keys). The Virgil Keys Service consists of a public key service and a private key escrow service. 

@ThingsExpo has been named the Top 5 Most Influential Internet of Things Brand by Onalytica in the ‘The Internet of Things Landscape 2015: Top 100 Individuals and Brands.' Onalytica analyzed Twitter conversations around the #IoT debate to uncover the most influential brands and individuals driving the conversation. Onalytica captured data from 56,224 users. The PageRank based methodology they use to extract influencers on a particular topic (tweets mentioning #InternetofThings or #IoT in this ...
More and more brands have jumped on the IoT bandwagon. We have an excess of wearables – activity trackers, smartwatches, smart glasses and sneakers, and more that track seemingly endless datapoints. However, most consumers have no idea what “IoT” means. Creating more wearables that track data shouldn't be the aim of brands; delivering meaningful, tangible relevance to their users should be. We're in a period in which the IoT pendulum is still swinging. Initially, it swung toward "smart for smar...
Web Real-Time Communication APIs have quickly revolutionized what browsers are capable of. In addition to video and audio streams, we can now bi-directionally send arbitrary data over WebRTC's PeerConnection Data Channels. With the advent of Progressive Web Apps and new hardware APIs such as WebBluetooh and WebUSB, we can finally enable users to stitch together the Internet of Things directly from their browsers while communicating privately and securely in a decentralized way.
In past @ThingsExpo presentations, Joseph di Paolantonio has explored how various Internet of Things (IoT) and data management and analytics (DMA) solution spaces will come together as sensor analytics ecosystems. This year, in his session at @ThingsExpo, Joseph di Paolantonio from DataArchon, will be adding the numerous Transportation areas, from autonomous vehicles to “Uber for containers.” While IoT data in any one area of Transportation will have a huge impact in that area, combining sensor...
With an estimated 50 billion devices connected to the Internet by 2020, several industries will begin to expand their capabilities for retaining end point data at the edge to better utilize the range of data types and sheer volume of M2M data generated by the Internet of Things. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Don DeLoach, CEO and President of Infobright, discussed the infrastructures businesses will need to implement to handle this explosion of data by providing specific use cases for filterin...
What happens when the different parts of a vehicle become smarter than the vehicle itself? As we move toward the era of smart everything, hundreds of entities in a vehicle that communicate with each other, the vehicle and external systems create a need for identity orchestration so that all entities work as a conglomerate. Much like an orchestra without a conductor, without the ability to secure, control, and connect the link between a vehicle’s head unit, devices, and systems and to manage the ...
Ask someone to architect an Internet of Things (IoT) solution and you are guaranteed to see a reference to the cloud. This would lead you to believe that IoT requires the cloud to exist. However, there are many IoT use cases where the cloud is not feasible or desirable. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Dave McCarthy, Director of Products at Bsquare Corporation, will discuss the strategies that exist to extend intelligence directly to IoT devices and sensors, freeing them from the constraints of ...