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The impact of the Big Game on the Web

This year, Akamai Technologies was once again chosen to protect and deliver a high performing experience for the Super Bowl by many customers who either broadcasted, advertised or showcased scores for the big game on Sunday Feb 1st. In doing so, we were afforded a unique look into various traffic patterns across industries on the Internet. Here are a few of the more interesting statistics.
Overall Theme: Viewers like halftime performances and fourth quarter

Total Traffic across industries ramped up quickly and evenly until about half time (~20:00 EST). There was a slight uptick in traffic during the halftime performance as well as the increased viewership to advertising websites including auto, retail, social media and insurance companies. Web traffic leveled during the third quarter. There was an increased spike around 21:15 EST which can be attributed to the incredible touchdown by New England Patriots leading to a score of Seattle (24) - New England (21). The traffic remained at its highest during the last quarter.

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Industry Patterns

Consumption was up in almost all areas of industry, but the extreme ends of that consumption were in the consumer industry, with 30% below average traffic levels, and social media, with 47% above average levels. The second largest traffic volume following the social media websites was received by auto customers through advertisements. This year auto representation was lower than previous years leading to decreased competition but increased customer penetration. The food industry saw an uptick before the game and a drop during the game.

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Device Patterns

While desktop usage still dominated over mobile and connected devices, the latter was still almost 150% above the normal levels. Combined with the elevated levels in social media, one can make assumptions about how and where users interact during and after the game.

Big Game Blog Post IMG 3.png Attack Pattern: Attackers want to watch Katy Perry performance

Akamai observed a high spike in attacker traffic during the second quarter with the highest attack traffic originating as rate control requests. This indicated the earlier efforts by attackers to slow down the server response time earlier in the game. The attack traffic was lower during halftime which may have been a sign that attackers were eager to watch the halftime performance.

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Akamai Custom Rules accounted for over 90% of triggered Web Application Firewall Rules, thus highlighting the successful pre-event preparation by Akamai Professional Services

Preparation and Delivery

Akamai Professional Services has been involved for months before Super Bowl to provide consultative assessments to customers to be able to handle the high spike in traffic on multiple devices. These assessments include a 360-degree approach for front end performance and back end infrastructure.

Our event readiness and support approach has successfully supported all major global online events over the years. This approach is divided into the following stages:

  • Event Preparation
    • Capability assessment and contingency planning providing a 360 consultative approach
    • Implementation and tuning of Akamai Customers setup
    • Escalation procedures
  • Event Execution
    • Pro active alerting and monitoring of traffic and trends
    • Live event support
  • Post Event Value Confirmation and Wrap-Up
    • Reporting
    • Post Event Analysis and Lessons Learned

Contact Akamai Professional Services today to arrange a technical call to discuss how Akamai can help provide consultancy services for your next big event.

This is a post from Aditi Mahajan, Senior Practice Manager of Advanced Solutions and Services, and Austin Thornburg, Senior Enterprise Architect at Akamai.