Unless you were a Seahawks fan, this year’s Super Bowl was pretty uninteresting. Any hope for an evenly matched contest was dashed immediately after halftime – Super Bowl advertisers continued to struggle with connecting to consumers beyond the television screen, especially on the mobile devices most consumers have at hand. The average load time for all sites on smartphone was nearly 20 seconds, and only six sites came in at less than 10 seconds. That’s well past user expectations of four seconds.
Many brands (58%) took to social platforms like Twitter and YouTube for cross-screen engagement – one way to get around the complexity of web development.
But viewers of the big game still turned to mobile sites for more information about the companies in ads. What they experienced was most often long load times, and in some cases, no site at all.
Compared to last year’s study we saw fewer advertisers delivering sites not optimized for smartphones. But even though only two sites did not customize delivery for mobile, the performance was still quite slow—even more so than last year. This is because the amount of data delivered—especially from sites using Responsive Web Design (RWD) techniques—was very large. We saw 14 – or approximately 50% – of advertisers drive consumers to Responsive Design sites.
Keynote monitored the advertiser sites across 3-screens: desktop, smartphone and tablet. Desktop and tablet sites typically performed much better.
But that still didn’t stop users from visiting sites directly. Some sites – such as Maserati – had difficulties dealing with the resulting traffic, displaying a “temporarily unavailable” notice.
Of all the desktop sites we monitored, Kia’s had the lowest availability at just 91%, with server errors from 5:55pm PT until 6:30 pm PT. Maybe a hashtag pushing consumers to social media might have lessened the load?
Pepsi’s site on the smartphone also averaged about 90% success rate. Some measurements were bogged down due to large amounts of content being sent “behind the scenes” of the page load.
Pepsi downloaded a breathtaking 19 MB of data while viewing its page.
It’s definitely a best practice to put content that isn’t immediately visible (such as the content from the “Your Voice” tab) at the end of the transaction. This way any slowdown doesn’t impact the core page (which is why it takes only six to eight seconds to load the visible part of the site). But downloading over 150 unoptimized images uses up more bandwidth than most mobile sites do, using up a lot of data for a secondary feature. It’s also consuming a lot of users’ data – which isn’t great when not everyone has an “all you can eat” data plan.
In this respect Pepsi actually violates a number of best practices such as compressing images, for smartphone performance.
Compared to last year’s study, we saw fewer advertisers delivering sites not optimized for viewing on smartphones. But even though only 2 sites did not customize delivery for mobile, the performance was still quite slow—even more so than last year. This is because the amount of data delivered—especially from sites using Responsive Web Design (RWD) techniques—was very large. 50% of the sites we monitored used the RWD approach.
See our full blog post here, with illustrations: