Online Journey Hijacking: How Your Users Are Impacted by Unauthorized Ads

Is Safari Safer than Chrome? New Data Report Reveals Insights on Online Journey Hijacking and its Effects on E-commerce

Findings cover desktop and mobile web sessions in U.S. and Europe across a variety of e-commerce sites

Recently, we mentioned how AI in retail could fully transform the industry with seamless technology integrations and scalable operations along the value chain. AI in retail is expected to witness a growth in spending of over 200% between 2019 and 2023. The projections reveal that spending will reach $12 billion by 2023. But, how much of this would be spent on shielding customer experiences from getting hijacked by unauthorized ads from digital malware sources? To answer this, today, Namogoo, the company leading the fight against Online Journey Hijacking, has released its latest Benchmark Report for 2018. The key findings provide a comprehensive look at a growing but little-known problem that affects 15-25 percent of all user web sessions and costs e-commerce brands hundreds of millions in revenue.

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What is Online Journey Hijacking?

We spoke to Namogoo’s Co-Founder and CEO, Chemi Katz, about the various challenges that e-commerce marketers could face due to unauthorized ads infecting their campaigns.

Online Journey Hijacking is a client-side phenomenon where unauthorized ads are injected into consumer browsers. Today, it is seen as a growing yet invisible problem for most e-commerce sites. This issue is widespread across the web — yet the e-commerce industry has only been made aware of its existence in recent years.

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“Online Journey Hijacking is a digital malware. This malware resides on the consumer’s browser or device; server-side security solutions lack visibility or control over the problem. In short, the e-retailer probably doesn’t even know the problem exists. This comes at a significant cost to online brands, and it robs them of between 2-5% in annual revenue,” Chemi said.

Online Journey Hijacking results in product ads, banners and pop-ups, which appear to the user when visiting an e-commerce site, disrupting their e-commerce experience and diverting them to competitor sites. Web browsers get infected by digital malware when users install software downloads or program updates, or when they connect to public Wi-Fi networks. These unsanctioned promotions — hidden from retailers because they come from the users’ side — cost retailers between two to five percent in annual revenue.

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According to the report, Online Journey Hijacking includes various types of unauthorized injected ads. They all have a unique methodology to target users such as banner ads, pop-ups, and product ads.  Desktop and mobile users are differently infected by the Online Journey Hijacking phenomenon depending on the day, time and region from which they are surfing the website.

These are some critical observations on how Online Journey Hijacking infects the users.

  • Users on all major desktop web browsers exhibited high infection rates: But Apple’s Safari web browser had the highest such infection rate for both desktop and mobile users at 24.66% and 19.19% respectively.
  • Desktop Infection Rates – U.S. vs. Europe: Infection rates were highest in the U.S. during Q4 2018 — including the peak holiday shopping season — when 21.57 percent of all user sessions were exposed to unauthorized ads. In Europe, these disruptions peaked during Q2 2018 at 22.56 percent.
  • Mobile Infection Rates: Infection rates on desktops are generally higher than on mobile devices. This can be attributed to the fact that while mobile browsing is increasing, most conversions still occur on desktops. Desktop users in both the U.S. and Europe infected with Online Journey Hijacking — hovering at just over 20 percent of all desktop website visitors — substantially impacted online revenue for businesses throughout 2018. Mobile infection rates in Europe rose markedly after Q1 2018, hovering at just over 17 percent of all mobile site visitors.
  • Online Journey Hijacking by Vertical: Online Journey Hijacking impacts all verticals since it is caused by malware running on the consumer’s device. Desktop infection rates include home (23.13 percent), apparel (22.99 percent), eye wear (20.45 percent), gifts and hobbies (18.28 percent) and health and beauty (17.64 percent).
  • Conversion Rate by Quarter: One of the most common misconceptions regarding infected users is that they are less digitally savvy and thus less important for e-commerce businesses. Namogoo compared conversion rates for users who are not impacted by unauthorized ads versus infected users after injected ads were blocked to provide them a distraction-free experience. The data shows that infected users for whom injected ads were blocked converted more than twice as frequently as clean users. These findings demonstrate the importance of the infected user segment to online business revenue.
  • Checkout Abandonment Rates: As the report’s conversion findings suggest, the most active consumers are often exposed to unauthorized promotions as a result of downloading malicious content. Once these disruptions are removed from their experience at checkout, they abandon this critical stage of the sales funnel less frequently, making purchases more often.

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So, what’s the solution to fight Online Journey Hijacking? AI again…

Chemi said, “Most online shoppers and retailers are not aware of Online Journey Hijacking. It is our mission to educate the industry about this problem. Namogoo’s proprietary code identifies which users are impacted by unauthorized ads and makes sure these ads or interruptions will not show up on their browsers while visiting a Namogoo customer website.”

“To combat this problem, Namogoo uses Machine Learning and AI technology to classify web patterns, identify new and suspicious web activity, and flag new malware-driven injections. This capability is critical since these malware injections keep evolving with new mutations on a daily basis. To put this into perspective, Namogoo’s technology is analyzing hundreds of millions of web session on a weekly basis,” he added.

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With the only solution helping online retailers block Online Journey Hijacking, Namogoo uses analytics and Machine Learning to prevent the injection of unauthorized ads that direct consumers to competitors’ sites. Powered by these AI analytics, Namogoo’s report illustrates the scale and impact of this problem on both user experience and online business revenue. The findings are based on an analysis of billions of page views in 2018 across various e-commerce verticals in the U.S. and Europe.

“The extensive data reveals a growing problem online businesses are facing, one which most don’t even know they have. No online business is safe from Online Journey Hijacking. We want businesses to be aware of just how much this impacts their customers’ shopping experience and their revenue, and to help them realize the true potential of their digital investments,” Chemi added.

Currently, Namogoo is pioneering the field of Online Journey Hijacking Prevention. Namogoo’s holistic platform enables online businesses to deliver a distraction-free customer journey by identifying and removing unauthorized product ads injected into consumer web sessions that divert the customer journey and harm conversion rates.

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