One-Third Of Black Friday Online Shoppers Were Fake, Study Finds

Whoah! On the heels of upbeat reports about Black Friday sales come new data that reveal that a third of all online shoppers were bots and fake users.

Cybersecurity company CHEQ says 35.7% of all online shoppers were malicious scrapers and crawlers, sophisticated botnets, fake accounts, click farms and/or proxy users as well as a host of illegitimate users committing e-commerce-related fraud. 

The study was conducted across a pool of over 42,000 websites in North America, Europe and Asia, applying hundreds of cybersecurity tests to each website visitor to determine their authenticity. 

E-commerce sites were found to be particularly vulnerable, with high exposure to carding attacks, chargeback fraud, data breaches, fake sign-ups and other types of disruptive activities.

The cost? CHEQ estimates that damage to businesses could surpass $1.2 billion.

The study found that 27% of organic and direct traffic is invalid, 32% of organic and direct traffic from mobile is invalid, and 32% of organic and direct traffic in the retail sector is invalid. 



Furthermore, $697 billion is wasted globally on skewed data each year, $42 billion is the amount of revenue uplift if invalid traffic (IVT) is removed, and $115 billion in sales labor costs is wasted on invalid leads.

“Fake website traffic is a year-round problem, but this Black Friday we've seen a real sharp spike in the online retail sector,” says Guy Tytunovich, noting that the pandemic has led to an increase in e-commerce activity. "Cyber crime follows the money."

The estimates are derived from CHEQ's recent report covering the cost of fake traffic to online business. It concluded that IVT affects all channels and has very high rates on the non-paid side of marketing, including organic and direct traffic. 

It impacts business intelligence as well as website traffic and conversions at every stage of the funnel on both the paid and organic marketing fronts.

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