This weekend the Seattle Seahawks and the New England Patriots battled to give fans quite possibly the strangest game ending ever. From a one-in-a-million catch, a turnover, and an all out fist fight, this game will go down as one of the most interesting in recent Super Bowl history.

Super Bowl Site Performance Game

But while we may love football, we all know that this is only half of the competition. At $4.5 million dollars a piece, Super Bowl commercials only get a few seconds to vy for our attention, beat the competition, and make a valuable impression. After previous notorious site crashes that resulted in harsh social media backlash, we wondered if the companies who were willing to spend so much for 30 seconds worth of airtime also invested in their site performance and scalability that the $4.5 million dollar ads would incur. We tested each advertiser’s site with 2 virtual users, requesting the home page every 30 seconds over the duration of the game. Here’s what we found:

Worst Super Bowl Site Performance

Error Spikes

Surprisingly, 27 of the 45 companies had errors on their home pages before super bowl ads even aired. During the tests, we saw several companies experience a spike in error rates for short periods of time.
These 5 companies experienced spikes in error rates of over 50% from the HTML requests.

The Fattest

The ever-increasing size of web pages today can be one of the main reasons behind slow load times and scalability issues. And, as mobile traffic increases, mobile users are becoming the biggest victims of page bloat, and risk a shock with the arrival of their phone bills. These were the 7 sites with the fattest home pages:

The Slowest – Peak Page Completion

Page load time is an extremely important metric when it comes to considering performance, and a recent study has shown that ad revenue increases as page load time improves. We saw several companies experience page completion time spikes during the test. Although the pages were completed, that doesn’t necessarily mean people stayed around to wait for the page to load.
The 10 highest spikes in page completion time

Best Super Bowl Site Performance

Error Free

Only 7 of the 45 companies experienced ZERO errors for the duration of the test. Great job!
  • Esurance
  • Chrysler
  • Microsoft
  • Chevy
  • Suzuki
  • NoMore
  • Jeep

The Most Light Weight

On the opposite end of the spectrum, several super bowl sites seem to have realized the performance benefits of trimming down the size of their pages. These were the top 5 lightest pages :

The Fastest -Average Page Completion Time

While we definitely saw high peak completion times in our tests, there were several companies who saw successful average page load times. The 5 best average page load times came from these guys :

Overall Performance Summary

This year, the overall performance of the Super Bowl advertiser websites was hit or miss. While there appeared to be some companies who took time to prepare their site’s scalability, such as Esurance or the No More campaign, there seemed to be equally as many who allowed errors to remain on their home pages. This not only points to a lack of preparation for scalability, but also a lack of preparation for basic performance. This year, many companies didn’t wait to release ads until super bowl Sunday, and about half of the ads being released a week early. The lack of a hard deadline makes me wonder how there were still so many website performance issues overall. In the age of the internet, we’re seeing a shift in advertisement that relies heavily on social interaction on websites, with 50% of the 66 commercials aired using a twitter hashtag. It could be that companies are relying on social media platforms to get business, rather than their own websites.