Sites Gear Up for Super Bowl Sunday,1510,14143,00.html

Web advertisers expect an onslaught of visitors after the game.

by Jaikumar Vijayan, Computerworld

Dot-com companies running ads during this year’s Super Bowl are working to make sure they don’t fumble after the game.

Expecting a surge in site traffic, several are busy beefing up their networks, hardware, and databases to ensure their sites don’t get knocked out after their Super Bowl ads air on January 30, 2000.

Their efforts demonstrate the challenges Web-based companies face in building systems capable of growing quickly while offering stability. ABC, which is broadcasting Super Bowl XXXIV in Atlanta, expects to attract more than 100 million viewers in the United States. That means Web-based companies buying primo commercials are practically inviting surprises.

Take New York-based Last year the company spent $2 million–half of its total revenue–for a 30-second spot in advertising’s marquee event. The resulting 120 percent surge in site traffic during the week following the game, from just over 800,000 hits per month previously, was beyond the company’s wildest expectations. But the surge also choked its network and servers and locked tens of thousands of frustrated users out of its site for days afterward.

This year, will again air a commercial during the game, but this time it’s taking no chances. “We are expecting two months’ traffic in a one-week time frame. With that kind of a [load] we are looking at all aspects of our infrastructure,” says company Chief Information Officer George Nassef Jr.

The company has increased site capacity sixteenfold. Following last year’s debacle, “we decided to eliminate the risk by making whatever investment was needed,” Nassef says.

Michael Budowski, chief executive officer of, an online invitation Web site, figures his company will spend more than $500,000 on similar upgrades to its servers and networks in preparation for post-Super Bowl traffic. When complete, the new setup will improve performance tenfold over what the company has had in place since it started operations in April 1999, Budowski says.

“We are going to be spending nearly $4 million on the Super Bowl,” he says. “Service failure is simply not an option.”