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Some Super Bowl advertisers fumble online

The Web sites of Super Bowl TV advertisers largely held up during and after the championship game, but a handful of them choked under high-traffic pressures, a study shows.

The Web sites of Super Bowl TV advertisers largely held up for visiting Internet surfers during and after the championship game Sunday, but a handful of them choked under high-traffic pressures, according to a study.

Casualties of a Super Bowl rush online included the Web sites for automaker Cadillac, Philip Morris, and Universal Pictures' upcoming film remake of "The Hulk," which all aired commercials during the 37th annual football competition, according to Keynote Systems, which provides Web performance management services. Accessibility to Philip Morris' site dropped when the company changed its site to reflect its new name, Altria.

People trying to access the promotional film site for "The Hulk" during the game had to wait for more than 50 seconds for pages to load on a high-speed Internet connection. Before the game, it had taken 4 to 5 seconds for pages to load.

"The problem was exacerbated for dial-up users," said Mathew Parks, director of product marketing for Keynote, which tested the roughly 17 Web sites of those advertising during the Super Bowl from networks around the world.

He attributed the site problems to poor communication between marketing and information technology departments within these companies in planning for stepped-up traffic from TV audiences. In addition, companies are failing to adequately test their server capacities for high volumes of traffic resulting from TV advertising campaigns.

"One side of the house isn't talking to the other side of the house," he said.

Still, many companies fielded the additional interest from Web surfers just fine. The sites for Sony, Sony Pictures, Levi Strauss, McDonalds and FedEx were fully availability throughout the game, according to Keynote.

Technology and mainstream advertisers alike tapped the Web as a marketing tool this year. While many featured Web addresses in TV commercials, others built online sweepstakes and "making of" videos around their commercials.