How Top Retailers Protect Their Brand Reputations from Client-Side Ad Injections
October 10, 2019
by Tirtza Giles
As Customer Journey Hijacking (CJH) continues to target online shoppers, retailers are becoming increasingly aware of the immediate risk client-side ad injections pose to their sales. After all, the business model of Customer Journey Hijacking is built on an unscrupulous approach to affiliate marketing in which bad actors make money by stealing shoppers away from one website and sending them to another.
But there is another way Customer Journey Hijacking hurts online retailers that is no less significant: by damaging their brand reputation.
While it is difficult to quantify the impact of Customer Journey Hijacking on brand reputations, the breakdown of various types of injected ads gives us some indication of the extent of the risk. Our large-scale analysis of online traffic has found that, of the unauthorized ads displayed through CJH:
- 60% to 65% promote products sold at competing online stores.
- 15% to 20% promote online gambling or gaming.
- 10% promote adult websites.
- 5% to 10% mimic legitimate alerts (such as error messages or recommendations from the user’s operating system), attempting to trick users into clicking on them.
As these numbers show, most injected ads promote competing products – meaning that we would expect them to negatively impact a retailer’s sales more than its brand reputation. But a significant portion of injected ads feature content that could offend many users, undermine their confidence in the security of the website on which the ads appear, and hurt their overall impression of the retailer’s brand.
Ultimately, of course, this damage to brand reputations threatens to reduce long-term sales numbers. Adding to this concern, most consumers are not aware of the problem of client-side ad injections. As a result, many shoppers tend to blame the victimized retailers for any injected ads that they see while visiting those retailers’ websites. And shoppers whose experience with a brand is shaped by injected ads today are significantly more likely to turn to a competitor when they want to make a purchase tomorrow.
Just how damaging can consumers’ lack of awareness of CJH be for retailers’ brand reputation?
In a survey of more than 1,300 online shoppers that we conducted, only 3% of respondents said that if they are visiting an eCommerce website when they see a pop-up advertising products from other stores, that is an indication that they have a bug on their own computer. Meanwhile, 66% of consumers said that if they are visiting a retailer’s website when they see injected ads from other websites, that means their personal privacy is being compromised. And 78% said that if they are exposed to such ads on a retailer’s site, that would be either “likely” or “very likely” to negatively impact their view of the retailer.
Moreover, every time you lose a sale to Customer Journey Hijacking, you may also lose a customer for life – as well as a strong advocate for your brand. In our study of online shoppers, 58% of respondents said that if they were searching for a certain product in an online store when they saw a pop-up ad for a competing website selling the same product at a lower price, they would likely click the ad. And when asked about this scenario, 80% said that if they made a purchase on the competing website rather than in the original online store, they would be more likely to return to that competing website the next time they wanted to make a similar purchase.
How are leading eCommerce brands fighting back?
Because ad injections are caused by client-side phenomena such as malware (in most cases) and Wi-Fi hijacking (less often), they cannot be stopped by conventional cybersecurity solutions or strategies. This reality makes CJH a particularly difficult problem for retailers to solve.
However, technological innovation has made it possible for AI-powered solutions to identify and block injected ads before they appear on an end user’s digital device. Through advanced machine learning, these solutions are able to keep up with the ever-changing code used by ad injectors.
At Namogoo, this is the approach our Customer Hijacking Prevention (CHP) solution takes to protect retailers’ online assets from these client-side threats. By analyzing hundreds of millions of online sessions per day, our self-learning platform zeroes in the promotions being displayed within retailers’ online stores without their authorization – acting in real time to prevent customers and prospective customers from viewing these advertisements.
In response to the growing reach of CJH – and the growing awareness of the threat it poses – today’s top retailers are increasingly turning to the kind of Customer Hijacking Prevention technology we offer to stop client-side threats from damaging their sales revenue, brand reputations, and customer retention efforts.
In addition, some retailers – such as Samsonite – are boosting their marketing KPIs by specifically targeting “hijacked” consumers (those who use digital devices hijacked with ad-injecting malware). This is an effective way to target marketing campaigns, because “hijacked” shoppers actually tend to convert at higher rates than other consumers – especially once their injected ads are recovered.
How effective is Customer Hijacking Prevention?
To ensure the effectiveness of our CHP solution, we at Namogoo constantly run A/B tests measuring the impact it has on our customers’ KPIs. Although it is difficult to quantify brand reputations through this type of testing, our results reveal our solution’s effect on other critical metrics – such as conversion rate, revenue per user, and total sales revenue. Among our key findings:
- Retailers that use our CHP solution see their conversion rates among “hijacked” users rise an average of 12%.
- These companies typically achieve an overall conversion rate increase of 2% to 5%.
- They see their revenue per visitor jump by 5% to 7%.
- After starting to work with Namogoo, they see a 90% reduction in the online revenue being lost to ad injections.
- To date, our CHP solution has enabled these companies to recover a total of $650 million that would otherwise have been lost to ad injections.
Because each company’s target audience has a different CJH “infection rate,” there is some variability in the impact our solution has on these KPIs. But across the board, the business results our customers see are significant. For example, after blocking injected ads with Namogoo, Office Depot’s Viking brand saw its conversion rate rise by 3.4%, premium travel accessories brand TUMI saw its conversion rate rise by 2.3%, and Dollar Shave Club saw its subscription (conversion) rate jump by 4.6%.
How can you protect your brand reputation from client-side threats?
Today, no business with an active eCommerce presence is exempt from the threat of Customer Journey Hijacking. The malware responsible for most client-side ad injections is extremely widespread, and it disproportionately affects the most promising shoppers, at the most promising times of year, especially towards the bottom of the sales funnel.
If you’re looking to confront the threat that CJH poses to your brand reputation and your profitability, your first step is to evaluate how frequently visitors to your website view injected ads and how these ads impact your KPIs. Next, once you have “seen the enemy” with your own eyes, running a proof of value (POV) allows you to determine how effectively a Customer Hijacking Prevention solution blocks these ads and improves your KPIs. Then, if you’re pleased with the results of the POV, you have the option of continuing with CHP. Meanwhile, it is important to conduct ongoing A/B testing to ensure that you continue to see significant business results over time.
Quantifying the impact of Customer Hijacking Prevention on your brand reputation may not be a simple task, but a strong CHP solution should give you an immediate and notable boost to metrics such as your conversion rate – a clear sign that you’re on the right path.
How prevalent is Customer Journey Hijacking within your online store? To see how client-side ad injections are affecting your customer experience and your sales revenue, you can get a free CJH analysis of your website.