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My take on Click Frenzy

Unless you were living under a rock in November, you would have heard about the fuss over Click Frenzy. It was a 24-hour sale modeled on America’s Cyber Monday. Put simply, it was about promoting a bunch of deals from participating online retailers (that had to pay $1,500 to take part, with banner ads and promoted positions reportedly going for $2,000 up to $30,000) for 24 hours.

When I first heard about it a few months back, I thought it was quite a bold initiative, and wondered if it would really take off here. My first thought was that people might not show up, but I had to commend Power Retail for having the stones to try it.

What resulted was a major build-up of hype from media coverage in major newspapers, Channel 7’s Sunrise program, and the bastion of quality journalism that is Channel 9’s A Current Affair. This lead to a massive amount of interest and generated so much traffic to the Click Frenzy website that it crashed. Subsequently, several retailers’ websites went down from the traffic spike they received. This included Dick Smith, Harvey Norman, Myer, and others. There were also a few that weathered the traffic just fine, such as The Iconic.

There was obviously a lot of frustration for people that were trying to access the deals, and this resulted in a round of parody-inspired images circulating throughout the internet. The most humorous of these was a fake photo of a t-shirt.

Most of the major newspapers were quick to stick the knife into Click Frenzy, claiming it was a failure for its period of downtime. There was also a backlash from some users who thought that the bargains were not significant enough when the site came back online. Despite this, retailers like Deals Direct and OO.com.au told SmartCompany that they had received the highest single day of sales ever.

It seems unfair to me to bash Click Frenzy for failing to accommodate the traffic. With the benefit of hindsight, it is easy to question why it didn’t prepare more effectively, but by and large, the promotion is a good thing for online retail in Australia.

It actually reminds me of what Ticketek was like a few years back, when its website would crash when tickets for a popular concert would go on sale. This would result in user backlash and reached its peak when tickets to see Rage Against The Machine went on sale and people could not reach the website. Again, popular media at the time went for the jugular, but nowadays Ticketek has adapted and has a robust system in place to handle traffic spikes.

I would be willing to bet that, several years from now, people will consider Click Frenzy a part of the accepted sales cycle, and the downtime of the first one will just be a distant memory. Instead of sticking the knife in for something going wrong, I think the organizers should be applauded for having a go.

Nathan Statz is the editor of Nett.

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