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SOA & WOA: Article

2014 Super Bowl Tips to Avoid Ad Site Fails

Tracking the ads for the Super Bowl can be tough as some advertisers don’t indicate whether they are advertising during the game

This year, the Seattle Seahawks dealt Denver one of the worst beatings in recent Super Bowl history; however, the only highlights of the broadcast were the commercials. They ranged from serious and thought-provoking to funny and quirky. Each ad was meant to do one thing: drive eyes to a brand. With most of the population watching with their phones and tablets, every advertiser's site had to be ready for those eyeballs.

Everyone wants to interview the winners and losers after the game. There is a dissection of every drive as analysts want to understand key aspects of success and failure:

  1. MVPs and who's to blame
  2. The Breakdown on both sides
  3. What to do for next season

I, of course, love football, but I also love watching Super Bowl ads and how they perform. I love looking at who was the fastest, who was the slowest, and understand why. The Internet is a level playing field on which everyone (with enough money) has the same options as everyone else; so when it comes to game time strategy, why do sites perform so differently?

MVPs and Who's to Blame

To review our full wrap-up of how the ad websites aired during the course of the game, click here:

Tracking the ads for the Super Bowl can be tough as some advertisers don't indicate whether or not they are advertising during the Super Bowl; others promote their ads well in advance. To compensate, our team added tests during the game as the ads aired but the methodology we used was the same for all.

We tested the ad URLs using real browser agents from end-user locations across the US. The tests ran from the following locations every 10 minutes during the game:

  • CA: Los Angeles - Verizon
  • CA: San Jose - AT&T
  • FL: Miami - Internap
  • IL: Chicago - Level3
  • MO: St. Louis - SAVVIS
  • NY: New York - Sprint
  • TX: Dallas - AT&T
  • VA: Reston - Savvis
  • WA: Seattle - Internap

We call this methodology a "9" Box as it divides the US into East, Mid-West and West; with three locations in each area running north to south. This gives us good coverage across the continental US; we recommend this approach for basic synthetic monitoring.

The browser agents doing the tests are the same as a real user opening a browser and making a connection to the page. It performs actions such as resolving the DNS address(s) for the ad as well as the ad's content including third parties; establishing the TCP connection(s) to all the domains contributing to the page; downloading the base ad page and reads, the HTML, executing all the JavaScript and CSS; downloading all the images and content being requested by the HTML and JavaScript; calculating how much time it takes the server to respond to request (First Byte Time) and then how much time it takes to download all of the content requested by the page. This allows us to understand which company had the fastest response time, which had the slowest, and how each got that way.

The Breakdown on Both Sides
For additional details on our impression of the Super Bowl advertisers and of the holiday season retailers, and practical advice we can all benefit from - click here for the full article.

More Stories By David Jones

David Jones is an APM Technical Evangelist and has been with Compuware for 8 years, he has close to 20 years’ experience working with web technologies at organizations such as S1 Corp (Atlanta), Broadvision (Bay Area), Interleaf/Texcel (Waltham), i4i (Toronto) and SoftQuad (Toronto).

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