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Don’t Cripple Your Campaign with Bad Hosting

During one of the most exciting games in the history of the Super Bowl, 84 Lumber presented arguably the most memorable commercial of the evening. Entitled The Journey Begins, this 90-second ad told the dramatic story of a young mother and her daughter making a long trip from Mexico to the United States. As you watch the ad below, imagine all the time, effort, and money it took to write, cast, shoot, and edit this short film—on top of the $15 million the company spent on 90 seconds of ad time.

How to Let a Good Controversy Go to Waste

In the hyper-political atmosphere since the 2016 presidential election, this ad was perfectly calibrated to be controversial and attention-grabbing. By depicting the endurance of an (presumably undocumented) immigrant family making the journey to the US while the daughter gradually stitches together an American flag, the ad celebrated the “will to succeed” as a universal American trait—in spite of our new President’s determination to build a wall on the Mexican border and curb how many immigrants enter the US. Knowing the country is divided on the immigration issue, 84 Lumber aired this ad during the television event of the year. The final call to action of the ad invited the viewer to visit the 84 Lumber website to see the conclusion of the “To Be Continued” video.

The CTA worked brilliantly, drawing millions of people to the company website—which promptly crashed from a sudden spike in visitor traffic. 84 Lumber created the perfect controversy to maximize attention to their brand, only to waste these efforts (and more than $15 million) by failing to prepare the hosting foundation of their website.

Plan for Success with Elastic Hosting

It’s not helpful to heap criticism on 84 Lumber for their technical mistake. After all, they quickly resolved the website issue and still made a big splash for their brand. That said, how many chances do you get to make a first impression? If you’re going to spend the time, resources, and money to make a high quality commercial for a major TV event, you can’t be so focused on the creative that you fail to execute on the call to action.

And in the digital age, your call to action WILL depend on your website being ready for potentially millions of visitors. This requires a web hosting solution that can stretch its capacity to accommodate a sudden spike in traffic. With elastic hosting on a cloud-based platform, you only spend for the resources you need—and if you’re expecting a huge influx of visitors during a period of time (say, for two hours after your ad airs during the Super Bowl), you can expand your capacity in advance. If 84 Lumber had spent another $1000 for extra server resources during the Super Bowl, their $15 million investment wouldn’t have been compromised by a crashed website.

Amazon Web Services works well for this kind of elastic web hosting. AWS allows you to prepare for higher traffic by upscaling beforehand with a few clicks and then scaling down as soon as you begin to see visitors drop off. Even if your site suddenly faces a rush of traffic you weren’t expecting, AWS can automatically scale up your server capacity to keep your webpages online with minimal disruption (Though it is always safer and less expensive to prepare.).

For example, this is how a major Baltimore news organization designed its web infrastructure to work. By basing their content-heavy site on an Amazon Web Services foundation, the news organization ensured they would both never run out of capacity for visitors and never overspend for hosting resources they didn’t need. Their site also scaled up to handle massive spikes in user traffic during the protests that rocked Baltimore after the Ferguson, MO court decision in 2014. The result? Baltimore citizens could access timely news during a city-wide crisis on a fault-tolerant website.

Is Your Site Ready for Massive Success?

If you’re not sure if your homepage could handle a sudden rush of new visitors, do not wait and find out the hard way. Reach out to your hosting provider and make sure your site has a flexible hosting foundation that will—without interruption—deliver the brilliant content you’ve worked so hard to perfect. And if you aren’t sure how to begin, contact Atlantic BT to design a hosting foundation that will support your future popularity.