Software Glitch Affects DoubleClick’s Domestic Clients

Ad network DoubleClick, Friday said technical glitches were to blame for a delivery capacity drop of 80 percent, beginning about 3:30 p.m. that day.

A DoubleClick spokeswoman said that within minutes of its discovery, engineers identified the glitch as a small bug in the ad server code. For the next hour and a half, they worked to install a software patch, rerouting traffic away from faulty servers while they were updated and re-initialized.

As a result, delivery of banner ads, online promotions and clickthroughs across the many Web sites across the U.S. were disrupted.

The company said the disruption affected only domestic clients.

DoubleClick vice president of operations Bob Linsky apologized for the outage in an email to customers Friday evening.

“DoubleClick prides itself on delivering perfect service to our customers,” Linsky wrote. “Our systems are designed to minimize the type of catastrophic failure that we experienced today. Our staff is trained in problem identification and crisis management/response.”

“However, we clearly have room for improvement and we will be taking immediate action to review our system architecture and emergency response procedures,” he added.

The DoubleClick spokeswoman emphasized that customers were immediately notified of the problem, and that the company responded quickly.

During the downtime, Web surfers being served DoubleClick banner ads saw only an error message linked to a DoubleClick Web address.

As a result, log records of the companies affected by the outage recorded impressions but no clickthroughs.

The news comes on the heels of the previous week’s announcement that longtime DoubleClick ad sales client AltaVista would begin selling its ads in-house. The move had been expected for some time; AltaVista’s parent corporation, CMGI, which acquired AltaVista last June, owns competing advertising property Engage. The account turnover will occur over the next several years, and under an extension of the pair’s original contract, DoubleClick will continue hosting the ads until 2004.

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