2021, A Black Friday in digital performance media like no other.

2021, A Black Friday in digital performance media like no other.

Kevin Sung December 15, 2021

Let’s start off with some sweeping channel statements :

  • – Google ads seems almost ‘bullet proof’ and grew (again!)
  • – Facebook ads suffered from YoY comparisons – scrambling for incremental value wherever it could be found.
  • – Organic social suffered even lower reach, which seemed impossible
  • – Influencers seemed to work with more brands over the period


These are certainly the ‘general’ broad trends we have observed at Bonded. But despite the challenges we have also seen revenue and sales increase for yet another year. That’s not too surprising though given search demand for ‘Black Friday’ grew 40% YoY (comparing 2021 to 2020) and 10% compared to 2019.

Search demand correlates somewhat with UK consumer spend too which is forecasted to be £9.42bn this Black Friday which is 18% up on 2020 and 10% up compared to 2019.


Official online spending stats are yet to be published (admittedly it has only been 2 weeks) but if the forecasts are to be believed then this hasn’t been the smooth path to growth that was so easily  ‘gifted’ to Black Fridays prior to 2020.


How do you compare Facebook ads YoY?!

We already mentioned Facebook ads above and more specifically the channel for many advertisers has faced a drop ‘in-platform’ tracked sales and revenue post iOS14.5 (some as low as 80% depending on many factors – such as % of IOs traffic)

Since that fateful day in April forecasting for Facebook ads using ‘in-platform’ data has been caveated, incrementality added, attribution model adjusted, analytics compared, aggregated data manipulated and scrutinised every which way to gain a robust idea of it’s ‘value’.

We observed a reluctance to ‘pull spend’ for Black Friday 2021 in light of iOS 14.5, instead opting for a best informed guess – of course it became a much easier situation if advertisers had a robust omni channel measurement set up.


Organic Social? Are you there?

If we thought organic social had a rough time the past few years it was that much tougher on reach this festive period.

Breaking down posts into low reach (less than 3% reach), mid reach (3-5% reach) and high reach (5%+).

We saw the % of low reach posts increase 17%, mid performing posts drop 8% and high reach posts drop 9% compared to 2020.

The only sliver lining here was that the average reach on high reach posts actually increased from 11% (2020)  to 16% (2021) of overall organic audiences across the pages we manage.

The old adage of quality over quantity is as prevalent as ever here.

Influencers, the right kind of influence

Over 52% of brands work with 1-10 influencers according to Statista (Feb 2021) but despite  a recent AdWeek study, reporting the average ROI of influencer marketing as 550% another Forbes study on the same subject found, identifying the right influencers is still the biggest struggle for 73% of marketers.

Brands are wising up to the fact that marrying the right product/service with the right influencer in a related space is vital to success.

Think of a general influencer with millions of followers promoting a niche product akin to broad audience targeting in Facebook ads with no other audience targeting or bidding on general gifting terms in paid search. You may pick up ‘some sales’ but at a very poor ROI.

Relevance is key.


Macro economic madness

The trend of brands ‘pulling the trigger’ earlier each year will also affect sales volumes on the official bBack Friday date too. Add in Travel restrictions affecting the travel industry and hospitality (holidays abroad down, UK stays up)  , Omnicron fears,  The growth of ‘Click & Collect’ impacting ‘in-store’ sales and ‘online’ stats and also the reporting from the media that ‘Black Friday’ pricing isn’t a big of a discount as it seems. There certainly were forces acting against the success of 2021’s cyber weekend.

Once the official figures come out it will be super interesting to see if despite some significant challenges making the wider digital performance landscape for advertisers tougher, we can answer one question,

Does ‘Black Friday’ still have the gravitas to pull in the spend of years gone by?


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