Preparing Top Brands for High Traffic During the Big Game

It’s not just the superstar athletes and halftime performers getting ready for the Big Game this weekend. Brands are expected to spend a total of $420 million dollars on advertising during this year’s game and with nearly 200 million US adults planning to watch, it’s an investment they’re willing to make. Website page views and overall digital engagement can be 10-20x higher than average for major advertisers before, during, and even weeks after the game. The sheer amount of exposure from this tent-pole event is invaluable but with that visibility comes the need for a high performing website and hosting structure that can support it all. If not properly prepared, a 30 second commercial that costs a brand $6 million could take down their site in seconds.

At, we have had the honor of hosting and preparing multiple major clients for the Big Game. One of those clients is WeatherTech, who has been advertising on game day since 2014. Maintaining a website like WeatherTech’s, which is built for ecommerce transactions, can get especially difficult during an event like this so proper diligence is key. Here’s a bit of a look at how our team comes together each year to support advertisers and keep them running at peak performance through massive traffic spikes.

Before the Game

As the saying goes, poor planning leads to poor execution. When we worked with WeatherTech for their first ad, preparations began a whole 6 months before the actual game. The team conducted extensive research on the WeatherTech site and subsidiary sites to find out exactly what could go wrong during such a high traffic event. We employed a large amount of load testing to simulate high levels of traffic to see what would “break” first. Taking that information, we created a traffic management strategy and set WeatherTech up for success.

A series of 20+ web servers were put into action which doubled the number of servers we typically use for WeatherTech, but that wasn’t all that went into this prep. Through complex programming, our team found ways to scale out some of the traffic with advanced replication technology. This allowed each database server to handle a different part of the traffic load. Traffic was also off-loaded through a content delivery network (CDN) called Akamai. The team even looked at all of WeatherTech’s images and multimedia elements to ensure they were optimized for speed and mobile performance.

Ecommerce functionality was also carefully considered. We evaluated goal completion rates and purchasing funnels from all devices and employed extensive A/B testing. Abandoned cart emails were also set up to reengage interest. With all the preparations done, all eyes moved to the big day.

During the Game

On the day of the Big Game, after months of planning and programming, the team didn’t simply set it, forget it, and head to a watch party. We established a “war room” staffed by programmers, server specialists, and essential team members and camp out all weekend. Our team stayed glued to the monitors, tracking server performance and site status for all of our clients running ads. If anything went awry, the team was there to act quickly and spring into action immediately. Even with all of the hours of prep that goes into these events, having an onsite team is essential. Potential problems can happen in seconds and immediate mitigation is key. We’re happy to report that in the 6 years that we have been supporting WeatherTech during the Big Game, we never saw a single outage on their site.

After the Game

As most know, the traffic boost that comes from a Big Game ad doesn’t stop after the Vince Lombardi trophy is handed out. Brands can see increased interaction for days and even weeks following the game. For clients like WeatherTech, we consistently monitor site performance during this period. Our team runs a number of reports to see what worked, what didn’t, and how to improve.

After WeatherTech’s first ad in 2014, the company was ranked among the top 3 advertisers in desktop, tablet, and mobile web performance by performance management company, Dynatrace (formerly Keynote Systems), beating out several big brands like Coca-Cola, Bud Light, and Doritos. The site handled 33,000 server calls per minute and traffic skyrocketed to more than 11x higher than usual. Through this time, WeatherTech also saw a 200% increase in total revenue. We call that a win.

When the San Francisco 49ers and the Kansas City Chiefs hit the field in Miami this Sunday we plan to do this all over again for and one additional advertiser that is also getting major Big Game exposure. With our 20+ years of website expertise and extensive experience with high traffic events like these, we’re prepared, well equipped, and ready for anything. The game kicks off this Sunday and is ready to do what we do best. For more information on our hosting and security services, contact us here.

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