Two Wellington companies have claimed their own touchdown after building a website for Toyota USA that featured large at the Super Bowl. The Camry Effect website (toyota.com/camryeffect) was created for Toyota's agency, Saatchi & Saatchi Los Angeles, by interactive agency Resn with back end development from web developers 3months.
An advertisement for The Camry Effect aired before a halftime audience of more than 120 million fans during the break in the game, which saw the New York Giants pip the New England Patriots 21 to 17. Traffic to the site spiked to more than 11,500 requests a minute during the advertisement.
3months strategy manager Bret Richdale said they "could really only sit back and watch as the traffic kicked in".
"We watched it real-time from a war-room in Wellington we set up for the event. It was incredible. To get an idea of how large it is, other sites we have developed with what we call heavy traffic may get tens of thousands of users a week. In internet terms, this is as big as it gets."
The Camry Effect website asks people to share their Toyota Camry experiences. Since going live in October 2011, it has collected more than 40,000 driver stories.
Bret Richdale. Photo: Kevin Stent/ FairfaxNZ
Richdale said before the Super Bowl they had 66,000 stories posted over three months. Within an hour of the advertisement there were over 76,000. The big concern was whether the site would be able to handle the load.
"Given the high profile of the site and the massive Super Bowl viewership, as well as traffic from advertisements taking over the YouTube home page, we had to ensure the site was absolutely solid and could scale to extreme traffic levels," he said.
In the run-up to the game, 3months tested the site to levels of more than 150,000 requests a minute. During the advertisement, the servers barely moved over idle, despite serving more than 1500 Terabytes/sec.
Another challenge was supporting users on many different types of platforms.
Resn developed the site using Adobe's Flash while a HTML5 version of the site was built by Christchurch-based Sons&Co. That was necessary to ensure the site was accessible on all devices.
Meanwhile, 3Months developed the back end on a platform called Ruby on Rails and hosted it in the cloud using Amazon's EC2 service and their database service for storage. Using Amazon's cloud services allowed the site to be scaled up fast.
Ten more virtual servers were added to the setup two days before the advertisements aired.
In all, the companies spent three months preparing for the Super Bowl.
"We needed to simulate a good proportion of the US population hitting the site. We tried several massive load testing tools, but in the end needed to create our own solution using JMeter running on Amazon EC2 itself," Richdale said.
Heavy site traffic was also generated before the game through a "takeover" of the YouTube US home page and an email to several million US Camry owners.
Over the past eight years Resn has won multiple international awards for creative web development.
3months has been in operation for 12 years, specialising in challenging sites and cloud-based implementations.
The adverts are:
Join the CIO New Zealand group on LinkedIn. The group is open to CIOs, IT Directors, COOs, CTOs and senior IT managers.