The Power Of Oprah – Even A Repeat Episode

At the beginning of this year, one of our managed dedicated server clients, cosabella.com, was featured on the Oprah Winfrey Show. We wrote a detailed post about how the Oprah Effect helped boost Cosabella’s sales by 2000%. The event was a success for both Cosabella and LexiConn. We learned a few things about managing the instant influx of traffic from an Oprah mention.

Round Two

Cosabella contacted us a few weeks back and let us know that Oprah would be re-airing the episode. My gut told me a repeat would not have the same impact as the original airing, but we went with caution and set them up with the same five front-end webservers (I’m glad I didn’t trust my gut and lower the number of servers). Their main server was used solely for the ShopSite ® e-commerce application, and would handle the shopping carts and checkout.

These five servers were optimized for speed, and the website that was replicated to these servers was using only static content (html, images, css, and javascript). This allows each server to handle a large amount of traffic with little impact on performance.

Use the past as your guide

Based on our lessons learned from last time, We pre-compiled the Apache webserver to allow up to 2048 MaxClients (geek speak for each webserver was opened up “full throttle” to allow as many simultaneous visits as possible). We set the MaxClients to 1800 on each of the five servers. We upped MaxClients on the main e-commerce server to 1200.

3, 2, 1… Action!

As 4:55 PM ET rolled around, we saw a similar surge in traffic as was experienced in January. This time though, we already had the flood gates opened wide, so their was no initial slow-down or overload of the webserver. The five servers peaked around 1300 Apache children each, and the main e-commerce server peaked around 800.

At the zenith around 5:00 PM ET, the site was handling 7,000+ Apache processes, and accommodated around 20,000 unique visitors during the shows being aired.

(click image to enlarge)

And as before, orders started pouring in soon thereafter.

After the dust settled, Cosabella saw about 60-65% of the traffic that the original airing brought to their site. The order volume was on par with the traffic percentages as well. The whole event went off without a hitch, and we were pleased to be able to provide Cosabella with fast loading servers under very heavy traffic. The ShopSite e-commerce software performed perfectly, easily handling the surge in orders placed without any performance issues.

All of this is quite impressive given this episode was essentially a repeat. It points to the power Oprah has, and what she can do for any business or product that is displayed on her show.

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6 Comments

  1. What Oprah does for novelists in particular is astounding. Out of the hundreds of thousands of books written every year, if a title happened to be chosen for Oprah’s book club, the author can retire.

  2. Kila says:

    Its amazing the power Oprah has established in our society. She is definitely a power house and whatever she endorses you know is quality and you can trust it. That is astounding stats that even off a rerun you had 60% of the traffic you had off the first showing!

  3. Dose says:

    I love watching Oprah. And it’s amazing how she could influence many people, she didn’t get the title one of the most powerful women for nothing. Beside the topic she have on her show are really good, informative and inspirational.

  4. sean says:

    The effect that Oprah has on careers has always astounded me. Just look at Dr. Phil. Would this guy really be anywhere without her.

    Now that her show has ended her effect will undoubtedly continue. Her OWN Network will continue to make stars for years to come.

Leave a Reply to Kila