$20,000,000 Was Lost Last Black Friday, Are You Ready For This Year?

Amber Dawson | October 13th, 2021

Last year, invalid traffic on Black Friday PPC campaigns hit record highs. If this trend continues, 2021 could see catastrophic levels of illegitimate clicks to ads on all advertising networks. Black Friday always sees ad budgets reach dizzying levels, but more money doesn’t necessarily mean better results: advertisers who spend less could actually achieve a greater ROI if their efforts are focused on the right things. Cutting out traffic that is known to be harmful or invalid is a great place to start. 

Let’s look at the data from last year’s Black Friday and see this season’s predictions.

Average Global Ad Spend Increased 24%

Between Fall 2019 and 2020, a pandemic happened. As Lockdown forced us all to stay inside, we expected online shopping habits to rise – and boy, did they rocket! On average, ad budgets increased by 24%. The most significant leap was seen in Brazil, with a dramatic increase of 38%. 

This increase was primarily because Brazil’s Black Friday event is stretched across the week rather than consolidated into just one day. 

However, this is no longer an isolated occurrence as we increasingly see Black Friday deals spill over into the surrounding days and even months, from that last Friday in November. 

This trend is set to continue, particularly as retailers continue to face supply issues, COVID-19 restrictions, and labor shortages. By stretching their sales out over a longer period, retailers give themselves more breathing space to answer the demand of their customers. 

As a result, online shopping is set to face the brunt of consumer demand, as well as the new type of online shopping behaviors, so ad budgets will reflect this once more. 

Invalid Clicks Surged Globally By 31% 

While Black Friday 2020 saw record ad spends, it also saw record levels of invalid ad click activity. Invalid traffic isn’t limited to just bots or nefarious activity; Black Friday calls for a flurry of chaotic click behavior, including accidental clicks. As users rush to bag a bargain, they’re increasingly likely to bounce around the SERPs and click ads they didn’t mean to, wasting budget.

Looking at last year’s results, invalid clicks were a particular problem for Australia and Brazil, but the USA, Canada and UK all saw their fair share of losses too. 

High-Value Products Attract High-Value Losses

Technology purchases are always where the hottest Black Friday deals are found. With everyone clambering to get Amazon Echos at rock-bottom prices and praying that PS5s might just come down in price, it’s no surprise that technology also dominates when it comes to invalid ad traffic. 

In 2020, the items that saw the highest losses (in $USD, descending order) over the Black Friday period were:

  1. Apple AirPods
  2. PlayStation 5
  3. Samsung Galaxy
  4. Nintendo Switch
  5. Samsung Galaxy S20
  6. Webcam
  7. Laptop
  8. Apple Watch
  9. 4k TV
  10. Macbook

It’s interesting to note that Samsung Galaxy phones appear twice in the list, and items that never had Black Friday deals (like the Playstation 5) sit so close to the top. The Xbox Series X didn’t even reach the top 30, perhaps due to significant stock shortages.

In all likelihood, 2021’s list will look very similar as tech continues to dominate the sales. It’s clear that invalid traffic levels are attracted to the most popular items; if your business makes serious money from Black Friday ads, it’s worth considering the extra revenue you could generate simply from cutting out these non-genuine users. 

$20,000,000 Lost In A Single Day

At the end of Black Friday 2020, 8% of all eCommerce ad clicks could be traced as invalid or fraudulent when measured across all countries and territories. These clicks represented a whopping $20,000,000 – all lost in one day. This was the biggest single-day loss ever recorded for eCommerce advertisers.

In 2019, this figure had stood at a significant $15,270,000, which, at the time, was a record-breaking amount. Invalid traffic levels continue to rise at alarming rates and show no signs of slowing down.

Protection = More Than Just Profit

Protecting your ads from bad traffic isn’t just about saving money: the data you get from your Black Friday campaigns could set you up for a phenomenal 2022. But, if non-genuine users skew your ad metrics, then it’s pretty useless. You could use it to inform your future campaigns, but then you’ll be optimizing to attract more bots and time-wasters. 

Speaking of setting yourself up for the future, it’s more important than ever to own your data with the removal of third-party cookies on the horizon. Allowing your ad data to remain hidden behind Google’s shiny interface so that you can only see what they will allow you to means you miss out on seeing the entire picture. With Lunio, you gain full transparency and control over your campaigns and turn invisible third-party data into usable, insightful first-party metrics. 

Don’t Become A Statistic

There’s an expectation amongst advertisers that by increasing your budget, it’s only natural that your poor traffic levels also increase – but this doesn’t have to be the case.

The losses from 2020’s Black Friday were staggering; $50bn is set to be lost to click fraud alone by 2025. But this doesn’t have to happen: it’s pretty easy to block harmful and non-converting traffic from your campaigns without damaging your ROI. In fact, removing illegitimate traffic from your funnel improves every aspect of your PPC campaigns.

If you’d like to see what percentage of your current ad traffic is invalid or fraudulent, register for a totally free ad traffic today. We’ll give you the click data, and you can decide whether to actively protect your ads against this traffic or not –  it’s entirely up to you.

Let Lunio Shield You This Black Friday

Whilst you concentrate on all the deals coming in, our hands-free technology can be working silently in the background to keep your ads safe from illegitimate traffic.

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