Why Hijacked Customers Are Worth More: A Deep Dive Into This Valuable Segment

Erez Zundy
  • Erez Zundy
  • June 10, 2020
  • 7 min read

If you’re familiar with Namogoo, you likely already know that the hijacked customers are more valuable to retailers than other customers. You may know that they convert better, abandon their shopping carts much less often, and successfully complete checkout more often.

This article will shed light on some of the characteristics of this segment in order to try to illustrate why hijacked visitors hold so much promise for retailers.

We’ll start by briefly explaining how some visitors’ journeys get hijacked. If you want to get more details about it there’s this article you can read.

How are customer journeys being hijacked?

The most common way customers are hijacked is through ad injectors that are bundled into many browser extensions, apps, and other freemium software downloaded online. Traffic hijackers positioning themselves as ad monetization solutions inject these ads into consumer browsers to increase their ad click revenue by diverting online visitors to other sites.

Unauthorized ad injections appear all along the customer journey, and their effect can vary. While visiting an online store, that shopper might see an ad for a competing store, or they might see a generic ad for products they have previously shown interest in (such as ads leading to sites like Alibaba or Wish). Alternatively, if the ad network that happens to win this specific auction for the user impression is out of demand, this shopper might see an ad promoting controversial content, such as adult websites or online gambling.

Here are some of the hijackers’ favorite tools for getting ad injectors downloaded and installed by unsuspecting users:

  • Browser extensions
  • Free software downloaded from the web
    • File converters
    • Media players
    • Dictionaries/translators
    • etc
  • Toolbars
  • Valid and popular software downloaded from third-party websites
  • Free Wi-Fi networks
  • Mobile network takeovers

In general, a popular bit of internet wisdom applies here: “If it’s free, you are the product”.

Traffic hijackers are smart

To maximize revenue from each shopper without arousing suspicion, the hijackers use increasingly sophisticated machine learning to push ads specifically to users with real intent to buy.

By analyzing a customer’s browsing behavior, search patterns, purchase history, and hundreds of other factors, hijackers can improve their ability to predict when it’s a good time to show an ad.

They know that this way, they can serve ads efficiently – allowing them to maximize revenues, without irritating shoppers so much that those shoppers will try to find a solution

In general, it’s safe to say that hijacked visitors are customers who:

  • Have real intent to buy
  • Spend more time shopping online than the average consumer
  • Don’t really mind injected ads
  • Are easily distracted

The demographics of this segment 

Unlike what you might have thought, demographically, the segment of consumers affected by Customer Journey Hijacking looks just like your general population.

For more than 90% of the companies we work with, the breakdown of age, gender, devices, geographic location, and interests among this segment is virtually identical to that of unaffected consumers. This means there must be a different reason shoppers affected by Customer Journey Hijacking convert more frequently than other consumers.

Qualities of the hijacked customer

The hijacked segment has three main characters:

Character 1: The unsuspicious shopper

This is the online shopper who was born and raised in an online environment, yet doesn’t truly understand the economy and the different players on the web. They are trusting, credulous, and unquestioning.

At Namogoo, we also call this persona the “I accept” shopper. That’s because they are so accustomed to downloading apps and extensions that they will not read the wording of the install wizard for the software they just downloaded from the web. They will just keep hitting ‘Next’, because they do not suspect that there could be something wrong. After all, this kind of shopper reason, they trust Google, and this site they downloaded from was ranked #3 for their search term. What could go wrong?

That trusting attitude seems to make unsuspicious shoppers particularly strongly influenced by online reviews. To quantify this characteristic, we ran a test in which we placed product reviews in the journeys of some users who had been hijacked and some who hadn’t. We found that those who had been hijacked had conversion rates 2% to 3% higher than unaffected customers who were shown the same reviews.

When this type of shopper sees an ad on your website, they do not typically suspect there’s something wrong on their end. They just think you decided to show ads on your website. They might find it weird, or they might not mind it at all. That will depend on the type of ad they see.

Character 2: The sophisticated shoppers

This shopper is an avid consumer. They are savvy enough to search for and find online shopping resources like browser extensions that offer them the products they’re looking for at a better value. For this persona, seeing the right ad at the right time is not an inconvenience, but rather a helpful way to get important information.

Discerning shoppers are the ones hijackers and advertisers are most interested in. These consumers don’t have a strong sense of brand loyalty for most products, but they can definitely hold a grudge following a bad user experience.

They tend to always be on the hunt for a deal, a coupon, or that new piece of clothing they want to buy. That is why they’re so easily distracted, and it’s the reason that we see their conversion rates jump when we block them from seeing injected ads.

The shoppers also spend substantially more time browsing through eCommerce websites and visit many more pages in a typical session than other shoppers do.

Character 3: The free-spirited shoppers

Rather than stay home and shop from the comfort of their PC, this type of consumer likes to shop everywhere and on any device. They connect to many Wi-Fi networks in locations ranging from coffee shops to transportation hubs, and even on the street.

Why is this so risky? Think about the places where you use free Wi-Fi networks that require you to first go through a confirmation gateway before you can connect to the internet. On this gateway page, you will be asked to approve a set of terms and conditions that most of us don’t bother to read. It’s just another step we want to get over quickly in order to get to do what we really want.

The free-spirited shopper acts the same way. Because they use so many unfamiliar Wi-Fi networks, and because they are so used to clicking “I accept” on these networks’ terms and conditions, they are more prone to being hijacked than others.

In most cases, free-spirited shoppers are only hijacked temporarily, with the injected ads stopping after the end of the session on a compromised Wi-Fi network. But in other cases, the customer journey continues to be hijacked even after the shopper has disconnected from the problematic network.

Making the most of this customer segment

By understanding the segment of hijacked customers in general, we can make sense of why these shoppers offer more value to online retailers than other consumers do. And the numbers back up this conclusion: Across the board, we see hijacked shoppers convert at rates between 80% and 300% higher than those who are not subjected to injected ads. More specifically, on mobile devices, we see that these shoppers have conversion rates of 195% higher than other consumers.

With these characteristics and numbers in mind, we suggest that, in addition to blocking injected ads, you make the most of this segment by incorporating it into your retargeting campaigns and email/in-app communications.

Need help reaching out and targeting these valuable customers? Our team can help you determine whether a given visitor is part of this promising segment, even if it’s their first session.