Welcome!

AJAX & REA Authors: Dana Gardner, Liz McMillan, Plutora Blog, AppDynamics Blog, Elizabeth White

Related Topics: Java, AJAX & REA, Cloud Expo

Java: Article

The Super Bowl Effect on Website Performance

Synthetic monitoring of a website

Whether or not you are a fan of U.S. football - it was really hard to avoid this huge sports event on February 5. In addition to the actual game, it's the Super Bowl commercials that - besides being very expensive to air - usually drive a lot of load on the websites of the companies that run their ads. The question is whether the millions of dollars spent really drive consumers to these websites and make them do business with them.

As we won't get an answer from the top brands that advertised about the actual conversion rates we can look at the End User Experience and performance of their websites while these ads were aired. By analyzing the data that we can get through continuous synthetic monitoring combined with deep dive browser diagnostics, we'll be able to see whether their web application was actually able to handle the load and didn't leave too many of these users with a bad user experience.

Use Case: What Was the User Experience at One of the Top Brands on Super Bowl Day
In order to avoid any discussions on whether the numbers we present are good or bad and mean that this company did a good or terrible job, we present all this data without giving an actual name as the purpose of this exercise is to show how to perform this type of analysis.

Synthetic Monitoring of a Web Site
In order to monitor web site performance of a site we set up a Gomez Synthetic Monitor to be executed on a scheduled basis. The monitor not only monitored the performance of the initial home page but also walked through several main use-case scenarios on that page, e.g., searched for a product. These tests were also executed from multiple U.S. locations, using low- and high-bandwidth connections and also using both the Internet Explorer and Firefox browsers. In addition we captured individual performance sessions using dynaTrace Browser Diagnostics.

The following screenshot shows the response time of the home page of this website via our Last Mile platform via a Firefox browser in the days before the Super Bowl as well as during the Super Bowl. The average page load time was around 9 seconds with the exception of the time-frame during the Super Bowl - that's when it jumped up to 30 seconds:

Synthetic Monitoring shows peak during the Super Bowl of up to 30s to load the Homepage

Analyzing Page Load Time from Monitoring Data
There were two factors that drove this spike:

  1. Higher load on their application due to the commercial aired during the Super Bowl
  2. Additional content on their page that doubled the page size

Factor 1: Higher Load
That's of course intended and a success for their marketing campaign. What you want to make sure is that you can handle the additional expected load by using CDNs (Content Delivery Networks) to deliver that static content to your end users as well as provide additional resources on your web and application servers to handle the extra load. To be prepared for that it's highly recommended that you do some up-front large scale load-testing. For more information on that you can read my recent blog posts on To Load Test or Not to Load Test: That Is Not the Question.

Factor 2: Additional Content
The average size of the home page jumped from 776kb to 1.497kb - that's double the page size. The reason for this is additional images and content that was displayed on the home page when accessed during the Super Bowl. The Gomez Monitor as well as the dynaTrace Browser Diagnostics Sessions provides detailed resource analysis that immediately highlights the additional images, stylesheets and JavaScript files. The following shows some of the additional Super Bowl-related content including size and download time:

Additional content downloaded during the Super Bowl resulting in up to 3 times higher page load times

The additional content in this case may have been necessary to fulfill the company's marketing campaign. The question is whether the additional content could have been optimized not to download 40 additional resources with a total size of > 700kb.

Deep Dive Browser Diagnostics
Looking at the dynaTrace Browser Diagnostics Data we can observe several interesting aspects.

Observation 1: Load Impact of additional resources
We can see the actual impact of these additional resources that got downloaded during the time of the game. Two of these resources took a very long time and had a major impact on page load time. The background image was delivered by their own web server and was not put on a CDN, which results in more traffic on their web servers and less than optimal performance for end users who are far away from their data centers. Another interesting aspect was an additional Facebook Like button that took 600ms to download and execute.

dynaTrace Timeline View showing the impact of additional resources on the page load time

Observation 2: Page Transition Impact of CDN User Tracking Logic
Some tracking tools out there send their data in the onbeforeunload event handler. Modern browsers actually don't allow the onbeforeunload event handlers to take too long or send any data. The workaround for this is to put in an "artificial" JavaScript loop that waits for 750ms to ensure the browser sends the AJAX Request with the tracking data before the browser navigates to the next page. We can also see this behavior on this page:

JavaScript Tracing Code from a CDN Provider adding a 750ms loop to ensure tracing data gets send before navigating to the next page

Conclusion
When you are responsible for a website that is going to see high user volume for a marketing campaign you want to:

  1. Make sure the additional content for that marketing campaign is optimized, e.g., make sure this content is on CDNs and follow the Best Practices for Web Performance Optimization
  2. Make sure you test your application with the campaign-specific features under realistic load
  3. Analyze the impact of third-party tracking tools and other widgets you put on your page

More Stories By Andreas Grabner

Andreas Grabner has more than a decade of experience as an architect and developer in the Java and .NET space. In his current role, Andi works as a Technology Strategist for Compuware and leads the Compuware APM Center of Excellence team. In his role he influences the Compuware APM product strategy and works closely with customers in implementing performance management solutions across the entire application lifecycle. He is a frequent speaker at technology conferences on performance and architecture-related topics, and regularly authors articles offering business and technology advice for Compuware’s About:Performance blog.

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
15th Cloud Expo, which took place Nov. 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, expanded the conference content of @ThingsExpo, Big Data Expo, and DevOps Summit to include two developer events. IBM held a Bluemix Developer Playground on November 5 and ElasticBox held a Hackathon on November 6. Both events took place on the expo floor. The Bluemix Developer Playground, for developers of all levels, highlighted the ease of use of Bluemix, its services and functionalit...
Leysin American School is an exclusive, private boarding school located in Leysin, Switzerland. Leysin selected an OpenStack-powered, private cloud as a service to manage multiple applications and provide development environments for students across the institution. Seeking to meet rigid data sovereignty and data integrity requirements while offering flexible, on-demand cloud resources to users, Leysin identified OpenStack as the clear choice to round out the school's cloud strategy. Additional...
The move in recent years to cloud computing services and architectures has added significant pace to the application development and deployment environment. When enterprise IT can spin up large computing instances in just minutes, developers can also design and deploy in small time frames that were unimaginable a few years ago. The consequent move toward lean, agile, and fast development leads to the need for the development and operations sides to work very closely together. Thus, DevOps become...
Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs) are increasing at an unprecedented rate. The threat landscape of today is drastically different than just a few years ago. Attacks are much more organized and sophisticated. They are harder to detect and even harder to anticipate. In the foreseeable future it's going to get a whole lot harder. Everything you know today will change. Keeping up with this changing landscape is already a daunting task. Your organization needs to use the latest tools, methods and ex...
Building low-cost wearable devices can enhance the quality of our lives. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Sai Yamanoor, Embedded Software Engineer at Altschool, provided an example of putting together a small keychain within a $50 budget that educates the user about the air quality in their surroundings. He also provided examples such as building a wearable device that provides transit or recreational information. He then reviewed the resources available to build wearable devices at ...
Software AG and Wipro Ltd. have announced a joint solution platform for streaming analytics that provides real-time actionable intelligence for the Internet of Things (IoT) market. “The key to successfully addressing the IoT market is the ability to rapidly build and evolve apps that tap into, analyze and make smart decisions on fast, big data”, said John Bates, Global Head of Industry Solutions and CMO, Software AG. To address the huge market potential created by streaming analytics in conj...
Today’s enterprise is being driven by disruptive competitive and human capital requirements to provide enterprise application access through not only desktops, but also mobile devices. To retrofit existing programs across all these devices using traditional programming methods is very costly and time consuming – often prohibitively so. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jesse Shiah, CEO, President, and Co-Founder of AgilePoint Inc., discussed how you can create applications that run on all mobile ...
From telemedicine to smart cars, digital homes and industrial monitoring, the explosive growth of IoT has created exciting new business opportunities for real time calls and messaging. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Ivelin Ivanov, CEO and Co-Founder of Telestax, shared some of the new revenue sources that IoT created for Restcomm – the open source telephony platform from Telestax. Ivelin Ivanov is a technology entrepreneur who founded Mobicents, an Open Source VoIP Platform, to help create, de...
Mobile commerce traffic is surpassing desktop, yet less than 20% of sales in the U.S. are mobile commerce sales. In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, Dan Franklin, Segment Manager, Commerce, at Verizon Digital Media Services, defined mobile devices and discussed how next generation means simplification. It means taking your digital content and turning it into instantly gratifying experiences.

ARMONK, N.Y., Nov. 20, 2014 /PRNewswire/ --  IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced that it is bringing a greater level of control, security and flexibility to cloud-based application development and delivery with a single-tenant version of Bluemix, IBM's

We certainly live in interesting technological times. And no more interesting than the current competing IoT standards for connectivity. Various standards bodies, approaches, and ecosystems are vying for mindshare and positioning for a competitive edge. It is clear that when the dust settles, we will have new protocols, evolved protocols, that will change the way we interact with devices and infrastructure. We will also have evolved web protocols, like HTTP/2, that will be changing the very core...
Cloud services are the newest tool in the arsenal of IT products in the market today. These cloud services integrate process and tools. In order to use these products effectively, organizations must have a good understanding of themselves and their business requirements. In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, Brian Lewis, Principal Architect at Verizon Cloud, outlined key areas of organizational focus, and how to formalize an actionable plan when migrating applications and internal services to the ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that CodeFutures, a leading supplier of database performance tools, has been named a “Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9–11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. CodeFutures is an independent software vendor focused on providing tools that deliver database performance tools that increase productivity during database development and increase database performance and scalability during production.
"SOASTA built the concept of cloud testing in 2008. It's grown from rather meager beginnings to where now we are provisioning hundreds of thousands of servers on a daily basis on behalf of customers around the world to test their applications," explained Tom Lounibos, CEO of SOASTA, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at DevOps Summit, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"Verizon Digital Media Services is responsible for the broadcast, video and content delivery network that accelerates, scales and helps our customers reach end users with all kinds of video and web content," stated James Segil, CMO of Verizon Digital Media Services, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 15th Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Docker is becoming very popular--we are seeing every major private and public cloud vendor racing to adopt it. It promises portability and interoperability, and is quickly becoming the currency of the Cloud. In his session at DevOps Summit, Bart Copeland, CEO of ActiveState, discussed why Docker is so important to the future of the cloud, but will also take a step back and show that Docker is actually only one piece of the puzzle. Copeland will outline the bigger picture of where Docker fits a...
The Internet of Things is a misnomer. That implies that everything is on the Internet, and that simply should not be - especially for things that are blurring the line between medical devices that stimulate like a pacemaker and quantified self-sensors like a pedometer or pulse tracker. The mesh of things that we manage must be segmented into zones of trust for sensing data, transmitting data, receiving command and control administrative changes, and peer-to-peer mesh messaging. In his session a...
The speed of product development has increased massively in the past 10 years. At the same time our formal secure development and SDL methodologies have fallen behind. This forces product developers to choose between rapid release times and security. In his session at DevOps Summit, Michael Murray, Director of Cyber Security Consulting and Assessment at GE Healthcare, examined the problems and presented some solutions for moving security into the DevOps lifecycle to ensure that we get fast AND ...
SYS-CON Media announced today that PagerDuty has launched a popular blog feed on DevOps Journal. DevOps Journal is focused on this critical enterprise IT topic in the world of cloud computing. DevOps Journal brings valuable information to DevOps professionals who are transforming the way enterprise IT is done.
“We are a managed services company. We have taken the key aspects of the cloud and the purposed data center and merged the two together and launched the Purposed Cloud about 18–24 months ago," explained Chetan Patwardhan, CEO of Stratogent, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 15th Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.