DoubleClick outage blamed on human error

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(Photo courtesy Shawn Carpender, via Flickr)
(Photo courtesy Shawn Carpender, via Flickr)

Lesson learned: Companies dependent on DoubleClick ads need to monitor traffic 24/7

Online media around the world experienced a minor panic attack on Wednesday when Google’s DoubleClick ad server went down for several hours. The problem was promptly fixed, but not before it cost a lot of websites a lot of money.

The silver lining of the outage: Problems like this one are out of the ordinary for DoubleClick, and smart companies will be able to learn from the experience.

David Jones, director of sales at application performance monitor Dynatrace, said Wednesday that the nature of the outage suggests human error was to blame, not infrastructure problems. Research indicates that the shutdown was likely a "502 error," he told Campaign.

"That tells us that it wasn’t an issue with the lower-level network things you typically see in a large outage," Jones said. "More than likely it was cause by human error."

Dynatrace reported there were 315 outages worldwide tied to the DoubleClick glitch, impacting 55,185 websites. Dynatrace’s Outage Analyzer tool breaks down shutdowns around the world.

DoubleClick is known for its expertise and high-quality service, Jones said, and the company's rapid response to fix the problem is a testament to the company’s maturity.

A company’s vulnerability to future shutdowns can be mitigated if it establishes best practices for such incidents going forward. Jones recommended websites be aggressive and proactive when there are signs of problems and have procedures in place to quickly switch to another ad server if necessary.

He added that a company can reduce its vulnerability with a service-level agreement that guarantees compensation in case of a shutdown.

"The linchpin is being proactive," Jones said. "If your source of revenue is dependent on ads, you need to be monitoring (your ad server) 24/7."

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