How CenturyLink Sunday Internet Outage Impacted Advertising, Ecommerce

A CenturyLink/Level 3 outage Sunday triggered a massive internet outage and slow response times for websites across dozens of companies, from Bed Bath & Beyond to services such as Xbox Live.

Web infrastructure and website security provider Cloudflare identified that the problem originated from the major internet provider.

Mehdi Daoudi, CEO of Catchpoint, which monitors customer digital experiences, said Sunday “was a bad day for the internet.” It's a good thing, he said, that it occurred at 6 a.m. Eastern on a Sunday until about 10 a.m., rather than on a workday while people were working from home.

Early reports suggest that a misconfiguration in one of CenturyLink’s data centers impacted the Border Gateway Protocol that powers the internet. This is how the routers communicate with each other. It tells routers when someone is using a browser to access Google or another site, and this is the path to take.

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Early predictions suggested that between 3% and 5% of the internet traffic was disrupted, from slow websites to videos and ads. 

Comparing it to an earthquake, Daoudi put the disruption at an "8" in size.

CenturyLink spokesperson told MediaPost the company is “currently conducting an internal review of this outage; however, we do not have information as to how these industries may have been impacted.”

Centro, which provides software for digital media planning and buying, said its ad-serving services were not materially impacted from the outage. "This was a blip for us," a spokesperson told MediaPost. 

In this particular case, the ad serving itself would not be impacted from an outage like this, unless Centro's CDN provider also has issues. That did not seem to be the case.

"The outage impacts us because our UI and API that connects us to other ad-tech platforms would have intermittent connectivity issues, like slow response times," he explained. "A user logging in on a Sunday may have had connectivity issues, but [advertising] campaigns already in flight shouldn’t have had much problems stemming from this incident."

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