2020 black friday ad data

Data Study: Ecommerce Invalid Activity Data From Black Friday 2020

Neil Andrew

Neil Andrew

December 2nd, 2020

Neil is Scottish so when he's not writing for PPC Protect he's eating haggis and watching Braveheart.

google invalid clicks report

Black Friday (and by extension Cyber Monday) is, without doubt, the biggest day of the year for ecommerce retailers in the USA.

But Black Friday is no longer a US specific phenomenon. Retailers in the UK, Brazil, Australia, Europe and the rest of the world are also increasingly cashing in.

However, that also means the fraudsters, botnets, click farms and other invalid ad activity is also starting to cash in.

For the first time ever, we’re able to share data showing the impact of invalid clicks on Black Friday Ecommerce campaigns.

The results are pretty astounding, with huge increases in invalid ad activity over 2019.

So what did we find? Well, let’s start by looking at how advertisers budgeted for Black Friday 2020.

Black Friday Digital Ad Spend (2020 vs 2019)

chart of ad spend increase on black friday 2020 vs 2019

Global average ad spend increase vs 2019: 24%

With ecommerce growth already accelerating rapidly this year, it was obvious that Black Friday 2020 would have some bumper ad budgets.

Our data backs this up across the five largest digital marketing markets for Black Friday campaigns.

Brazil saw the largest increase in ad spend compared to 2019, with the South American nation really starting to push Black Friday sales & events at a phenomenal pace. Ad budgets were up almost 38% compared to last year, representing the biggest national increase we saw. It’s somewhat expected, as Brazil’s Black Friday isn’t just one day but is a whole week!

Australia comes in second, recording an increase of over 29% in comparison to 2019. The USA follows closely behind at a 25% increase, with the UK seeing a not insignificant 13% increase.

Interestingly, Canadians might well be over the Black Friday frenzy this year, with a modest 6% increase in ad budgets. It will be interesting to see if this increase falls further in 2021 as Canadian consumers attitudes change.

Invalid Clicks Surge To Record Levels

chart showing invalid click rates for black friday 2020

Global increase in invalid clicks vs 2019: 31%

Whilst Black Friday 2020 saw record ad budgets, it also saw record levels of invalid ad activity. Not just in absolute numbers, but in percentage terms too.

Australia leads the pack with almost 14% of all ecommerce ad clicks being invalid on Black Friday 2020. This represents significant losses for Australian ecommerce advertisers, to the tune of millions of dollars.

Brazil follows closely behind at 11.13% of ad clicks being invalid, with the USA, Canada and the UK all sitting around the 8% mark.

This follows similar trends to global click fraud & invalid click patterns we’ve seen this year, with APAC and South America seeing some of the largest increases in invalid ad activity.

High Value Products Attract High Value Losses

We analyzed tens of millions of data points from 2020 Black Friday ad campaigns to find the product types & product groups that attracted the biggest losses to invalid ad activity.

With number one being the product group that caused advertisers the highest losses (in $USD), our top ten list for Black Friday 2020 is as follows:

  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

Interestingly, we see that the Samsung Galaxy phone family appears twice in the list, with the latest release attracting slightly fewer losses than the rest of the family combined.

Webcams appear at number six, likely due to a massive surge in demand caused by the ongoing global pandemic and work from home initiatives.

Gaming consoles also appear high up on the list, with both Sony’s PlayStation 5 and the Nintendo Switch attracting huge numbers of invalid clicks. Microsoft’s latest release, the Xbox Series X, doesn’t appear anywhere in our top 30 – perhaps a sign of retailers not advertising the product due to significant stock shortages.

The Single Biggest One Day Loss For Ecommerce Advertisers To Invalid Clicks

total losses to invalid activity on black friday 2020


Black Friday 2020 saw the biggest ever one day loss to invalid clicks & click fraud in the ecommerce vertical.

An average of 8% of all ecommerce ad clicks were invalid this Black Friday, when measured across all countries & territories.

This represented a whopping $20,000,000 lost in a single day due to invalid click activity & click fraud – the biggest single day loss ever recorded for ecommerce advertisers.

This was a marked increase on the $15,270,000 loss recorded on Black Friday 2019 – itself a record for the industry at the time.

Where To From Here?

It goes without saying that with losses as staggering as what we’ve seen this year, ecommerce advertisers are starting to pay serious attention to invalid click activity & click fraud.

With the rate of click fraud showing no signs of slowing down, and losses being predicted to hit $50bn by 2025, now more than ever marketers need to be fighting back.

Investing in click fraud protection & invalid click prevention solutions could probably be the best investment that ecommerce marketers make in 2021.

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