Coinbase's Genius Super Bowl Advert Backfires
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Coinbase's Genius Super Bowl Advert Backfires

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9 months ago

The exchange used its 60 seconds to display a QR code that bounced around the screen — but its website buckled under the pressure as millions tried to visit.

Coinbase's Genius Super Bowl Advert Backfires

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Coinbase's clever Super Bowl advert backfired horribly after the exchange's website was overwhelmed with traffic — leaving it inaccessible for many.

The exchange used its 60 seconds to display a QR code that bounced around the screen — a retro throwback to the screensaver on DVD players. Its logo only appeared briefly at the end.

But as curious visitors whipped out their phones to find out what was being advertised, Coinbase buckled under the pressure. A specially designed landing page wouldn't load, and reports of issues surged on Down Detector.

Chief product officer Surojit Chatterjee tweeted:

"Coinbase just saw more traffic than we've ever encountered, but our teams pulled together and only had to throttle traffic for a few minutes. We are now back and ready for you."

The QR code had directed to a page that invited consumers to sign up for an account in order to receive $15 in free Bitcoin. Meanwhile, existing users had the chance to opt in for a chance of winning a $3 million prize.

Even though Coinbase's website was only down for a matter of minutes, it would have been enough for impatient viewers to give up and go back to watching the game.

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A Brave Face

Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong shrugged off the setback, tweeting:

"The ad just aired! Shortest link between your TV and phone is a QR. Thank you to the team who worked hard on the idea and came up the site to deal with the surge of traffic. And welcome all the new folks to the cryptoeconomy!"

Armstrong later added that the advert did appear to have an impact. It was ranked as the best spot of the night by Adweek — and he also shared a screenshot that showed Coinbase had surged to the second-most popular free app in Apple's App Store.

The real question is… would it have overtaken Peacock for the #1 spot if the website had stayed online for everyone?

Coinbase has attracted criticism in the past for going down during crunch moments of volatility for the Bitcoin markets — leaving some users struggling to buy and sell at opportune moments.

Given how the major sporting event regularly attracts more than 100 million viewers, critics argued that Coinbase really should have seen this coming. NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden tweeted:

"Coinbase spending $16,000,000 on a Super Bowl ad to direct people to their website and $0 to make sure that website doesn't crash 10 seconds after the ad starts is so very internet."

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