Click Frenzy and Frustration

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November 20, 2012 by dannybishopcreative

Tonight the online consumers of Australia are left angry, and the retailers who’ve backed the sales promotion “Click Frenzy” are left red faced after the portal site crashed under load.

The Click Frenzy promotion was the brain child of Grant Arnott and his team at The Media Pad. The idea was genius: take the proven Black Friday sales hype and transfer it from the USA to Australia, taking a slice of the action as PR team and aggregating portal website.

In the weeks leading up to the event Grant and his team hit key retailers, telling the story of how they were going to create massive traffic and sales for participants. The retailers just needed to hand over between $2,250 to more than $30,000 for a single promotional spot on the the site. With more than 50 category pages, each with advertising collateral that totalled $50,000 and more, Grant and his team may have taken somewhere between $1,000,000 and $2,500,000 from participating retailers before the sale started. [edit: the $1-2.5 million figure was based on best guess information, but not verifiable due to Click Frenzy's site being down when this post was written.  This afternoon I reviewed the site while live and based on the ad rates made available to potential participants came up with a figure over $2,800,000.]

In the last week the PR really stepped up, with Mr Arnott generating lots of airtime and column inches as they cleverly disguised promotion of the site as news. The main angle was the call for retailers to prepare their sites for the massive traffic that the sale was going to generate.

Seems Grant didn’t listen to his own advice.

Click Frenzy turns into Click Fail

Click Frenzy turns into Click Fail

As the sale went live at 7pm the Click Frenzy portal buckled under load, failing to serve pages. An hour later the situation wasn’t much better, with sporadic connectivity at best.

They threw up holding pages with requests for users to enter an email address so as to be alerted when “things were back to normal”. No doubt hoping that at least some of the people hitting the refresh button would bail out and reduce the load. Often not even the holding pages were available.

On twitter the venting of frustration began. The hashtag #clickfail quickly trended on Twitter, being pushed to the top position by those annoyed with the event. On Facebook things were more calm initially, but soon saw thousands of comments from annoyed shoppers.

As of 8:15pm, 75 minutes after the sale’s supposed launch the website was still virtually impossible to view.  By about now one would imagine those retailer who have payed significant money to have their sales promoted will be asking serious questions about the value of that spend.

Click Frenzy Overload - give us your email, again, we might contact you. Maybe.

Click Frenzy Overload – give us your email, again, we might contact you. Maybe.

Two big questions remain right now; how could this have been handled better, and should you partake next year?

The first point, Click Frenzy’s website went down. That happens, even the biggest and best hosting platforms experience outage under extreme load. Maybe they had the wrong hosts, the wrong servers, but that will be reviewed by others better qualified than me.  The bigger question is what to do once it’s down.

Click Frenzy’s portal, in the lead up to the sale, asked visitors to register for the event. They sent updates to registered users at midday, using Campaign Monitor as the technology provider for the undoubtably large bulk email send. But come 7pm, nothing. No email. Not a peep.

Why? One can only assume they didn’t want to promote just a few key retailers with individual links, but when the site was down completely surely that would have been better than nothing!

They also were remarkably quiet on Facebook, and completely missing from Twitter.  The Facebook account asked for understanding and for visitors to be patient. The comments of frustration and at least one page set up to show the annoyance followed. On Twitter not a single update was forthcoming in the first hour and half.

Eventually the penny dropped, and at 8:32 they began posting the sales links on Facebook and Twitter. More than 90 minutes after the site crashed. I know the panic room feeling when things go awry, but there’s no excuse for the complete oversight of social media in this.  (I was writing how they hadn’t done this and that they should have when they starting doing exactly that… and that was after I’d written most of this blog post, they should have beaten me too it much much sooner!)

The second query, would you join in next year? That’s pretty simple to answer… but not because the website failed.  The need for an aggregator to handle your PR and act as an intermediary for driving traffic surely was a short term business proposition at best.

There’s virtually no reason that a big retailer needs to use a third party to create hype for them. The US model of Black Friday and Cyber Monday work because the retailers all know the day works for them, and do their own PR and sales accordingly.

If there’s one thing that’s certain, it’s that we’ll see a specific push again next year, but that Click Frenzy will be much less of a focus, if at all.

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