The State of Customer Journey Hijacking
About This Report
As consumer shopping further shifts online each year, creating seamless and personalized customer journeys becomes increasingly critical for retailers. And yet, the reality is that many of the shoppers who visit your website will have a markedly different experience there than the one you had planned.
In fact, today, during 15% to 25% of online shopping sessions, the shopper will be exposed to unauthorized ads displayed by adware, WiFi hijacking, or both. In other words, they will be targeted by Customer Journey Hijacking (CJH).
As the first company to discover the widespread yet hidden problem of Customer Journey Hijacking, Namogoo is leading the mission to educate the market on both its scale and impact on retailers’ eCommerce site and revenue.
Our annual benchmark reports aim to illuminate the behavior of online consumers — both when they are impacted by unauthorized ad injections, as well as when they have been prevented from disrupting their shopping experience. In parallel, these reports bring to light the importance of this impacted customer segment to the digital investments of online businesses.
Findings in this report are based on an analysis of billions of web sessions across verticals. The data in this edition provides a complete summary of 2019 by quarter, and covers both desktop and mobile consumer web sessions in the U.S. and Europe across a variety of verticals.
- Over 20% of all eCommerce site visitors were exposed to ad injections in 2019, with hijacking rates peaking during the critical Q4 covering the holiday shopping season.
- Subscription-based eCommerce sites were hardest hit by Customer Journey Hijacking, followed by online marketplaces.
- Site visitors viewed close to double the number of pages per web session after having ad injections eliminated from their customer journey.
- From homepage through to checkout, more than one in 10 eCommerce web sessions were exposed to ad injections on every site section they visited in 2019.
- Hijacked visitors protected against ad injections by Namogoo converted over 2.5 times higher. On mobile, protecting the customer journey nearly tripled the conversion rate.
- After eliminating Customer Journey Hijacking, eCommerce businesses saw checkout abandonment for hijacked visitors drop 16% on desktop and more than 24% on mobile.
What is Customer Journey Hijacking?
Customer Journey Hijacking (CJH) is a widespread customer-side phenomenon whereby unauthorized ads are injected into consumer browsers.
The injected ads can include product ads, pop-ups, banners and in-text redirects when browsing eCommerce sites. Because the adware driving these injections resides on the consumer’s browser or device, server-side security solutions lack visibility or control over the problem.
While there is some variability in the ways CustomerJourney Hijacking occurs, it is usually executed through a three-step process.
How does CJH occur?
- The consumer downloads free software such as a browser extension, program update, or mobile app that is bundled with adware and injected into their browser or device.
- The adware tracks the consumer’s online browsing activity and builds a personal profile based on their preferences, habits, and other characteristics.
- When the consumer visits an eCommerce website, these unauthorized scripts automatically display injected ads. Alternatively, ad injections can occur via Wi-Fi hijacking, exposing even users who have not downloaded adware.
WHAT IS THE IMPACT TO ONLINE RETAILERS?
LEADING CUSTOMERS TO BUY FROM COMPETITORS
The most common way that Customer Journey Hijacking hurts customer relationships is by guiding your website’s visitors straight into the arms of your competitors. At Namogoo, we have found that promotions for products offered by competing stores account for 60-65% of the injected ads that target customers of the retailers we work with.
In our survey of more than 1,300 online shoppers, 58% of respondents said that if they were shopping in an online store when they saw a pop-up ad for a competitor selling the same product at a lower price, they would likely click the ad. And 80% said that if they ended up buying from the competing store instead of the first store in this scenario, the competing store is the one they would be more likely to visit the next time they are looking for a similar product.
Worse yet, consumers who view injected ads while visiting a website typically think these ads are coming directly from the site, rather than running on their own digital devices. As a result, if a shopper is in your online store when an injected ad appears, they are likely to blame your company.
In fact, in our study of online shoppers, 78% of respondents said that if they were exposed to an injected ad while shopping on an eCommerce site, they would view that retailer negatively because of this interaction.
Taken together, those numbers paint a stark picture of the damage that Customer Journey Hijacking could cause to your brand reputation and customer relationships.
DAMAGING YOUR BRAND REPUTATION
If you think ads leading to your competitors are harmful, think of the damage that could be done to your brand reputation by the other 35-40% of ad injections.
Of the injected ads that we at Namogoo have identified and blocked, we have found that:
- 10% promote pornographic websites.
- 15-20% promote online gambling or gaming.
- 5-10% are designed to mimic legitimate alerts (such as error messages or recommendations from the user’s operating system) in order to trick users into clicking on them.
How Many Users Are Impacted?
To continuously assess the scale of Customer Journey Hijacking, Namogoo tracks hijacking rates year-round.
While the scale of hijacking varies between mobile and desktop devices and fluctuates amongst online product verticals and regions during different seasonal periods, Customer Journey Hijacking impacts every business with an online sales funnel that relies on attracting and converting web traffic.
Hijacking rate – The percentage of visitor web sessions where one or more injections of unauthorized content are detected.
With more online enterprises today actively preventing Customer Journey Hijacking, companies still vulnerable to this hidden customer-side problem continue to have their substantial digital marketing investments into traffic acquisition and sales funnel optimization undermined as a result.
Desktop Hijacking Rates
Over one in five web sessions on eCommerce sites were exposed to ad injections in 2019. Exceeding 20% in each quarter of 2019, 23.35% of desktop visitors in the U.S. were impacted by Customer Journey Hijacking in 2019, while the year-round average in Europe was 20.58%.
Notably, the percentage of web sessions impacted by ad injections during 2019’s final quarter was 12.7% higher than the 21.57% desktop hijacking rate reported in Q4 2018.
Mobile Hijacking rates
In our 2019 Holiday Shopping Season Report we revealed that more orders were placed on mobile devices than on desktop or laptop computers during the 2019 holiday shopping season in both the U.S. and Europe. Ad injectors took advantage of this trend and looking at the whole of 2019, we see that mobile hijacking rates in the U.S. increased in every quarter of 2019.
Industry Verticals Most Impacted
Customer Journey Hijacking impacts all verticals since it is driven by adware running on the consumer’s web browser. Desktop visitors browsing subscription-based services were most impacted in 2019, with 38% being subjected to invasive ad injections. A leading 28.54% of mobile visits to online marketplaces were disrupted by Customer Journey Hijacking.
The Verticals Most Impacted by Quarter
Seasonal impacts fluctuate by industry, with some verticals more impacted than others depending on the time of year. Notably, the data shows that Footwear and Home product verticals all experienced major increases in Customer Journey Hijacking in the second half of 2019. In the Travel industry, hijacking rates in Q4 jumped by over 27% from Q3, showing that as more shoppers browse online for travel destinations, they are also more susceptible to downloading software embedded with ad injections.
Customer Journey Hijacking by Browser
All major web browsers are prone to Customer Journey Hijacking, however Apple’s Safari web browser had the highest hijacking rate for both desktop and mobile users at 25.44% and 20.99% respectively.
Our data on mobile users revealed that Facebook’s in-app browser had the second-highest hijacking rate. With more mobile users browsing content posted on Facebook, the vulnerability to unauthorized ad injections on the world’s largest social media platform is a metric to watch going forward.
Desktop Browser Hijacking Rates
- Safari 25.44%
- Google Chrome 22.93%
- Opera 22.49%
- Yandex 19.89%
- Microsoft Edge 19.15%
- Mozilla Firefox 18.14%
- Internet Explorer 11 15.18%
Mobile Browser Hijacking Rates
- Safari 20.99%
- Firefox iOS 20.85%
- Pinterest in-app browser 17.30%
- Yandex 13.75%
- Facebook in-app browser 10.73%
- Google Chrome Mobile 10.20%
Hijacking Rates by Site Section
To assess where in the customer journey site visitors are most interrupted by ad injections, we segmented hijacked sessions by site section. The findings show that Customer Journey Hijacking targets every key stage of the eCommerce sales funnel. While category and product pages registered the highest percentage of hijacked visitors, we can see that over one in ten visits were exposed to unsanctioned ads in every notable site section.
The Impact on eCommerce KPIs
Conversion rates increase after eliminating CJH
Namogoo’s Customer Hijacking Prevention solution tracks conversion rates and other key eCommerce KPIs year-round for both hijacked visitor sessions that are recovered by preventing ad injection, and unaffected visitor sessions.
In every quarter of 2019, conversion rates for hijacked desktop visitors protected by Namogoo were more than 2.5 times higher than the rest of eCommerce visitor sessions on desktop. On mobile, these uplifts nearly tripled throughout 2019. Eliminating Customer Journey Hijacking for these engaged visitors results in major improvements to conversion rates and other key sales funnel KPIs.
Checkout Abandonment Rates fall after eliminating CJH
The impact of removing distractions at the end of the customer journey is also evident when looking at checkout abandonment rates throughout 2019. Recovered desktop visitors clicked out 16.06% less of the time when ad injections were prevented from disrupting their checkout experience.
On mobile, abandonment rates for these shoppers dropped even lower, 24.45% less when compared against unaffected visitors.
Eliminating friction at checkout has long been one of the top priorities for eCommerce businesses, and these results show that hijacked visitors are far more focused at the end of the funnel and follow through with their purchases more often when receiving the intended checkout experience.
On-Site engagement spikes for visitors protected by Namogoo
A key insight emerging from our 2019 data also reveals just how much more active online shoppers impacted by Customer Journey Hijacking are compared to the rest of eCommerce site visitors.
On both mobile and desktop, these shoppers viewed close to double the number of pages during their web session on an online store.
These increases were even higher in Q3 and Q4, showing that as web traffic rises during the eCommerce holiday shopping period the most engaged shoppers are also downloading web services bundled with ad injections. Removing these disruptions results in these visitors viewing significantly more web pages during their web session.
As the leader in Customer Journey Hijacking prevention, our yearly benchmark reports shed important light on how the widespread phenomenon of customer-side ad injections affects the way today’s online shoppers actually experience critical aspects of the customer journey, and the impact this has on critical eCommerce KPIs.
Our data uncovered that the most engaged shoppers are increasingly targeted by ad injectors wherever they migrate during their online journey. Disruptive ads increased not just for desktop shoppers, but on smartphones and tablets as well to hijack and profit from increased consumer spending on mobile. Ensuring a seamless mobile customer experience today means eliminating these disruptions that aim to undermine these investments for retailers.
Be it on desktop or mobile, keeping site visitors focused at each stage of the customer journey becomes increasingly critical for brands looking to engage, convert, and retain a loyal customer base. With a significant portion of online customers disrupted by competitor ads and salacious content at each and every stage of the funnel, removing any unwanted friction from the homepage through to checkout is vital to compete successfully in the digital era.
Perhaps the most important findings in this report crystalize the value of shoppers impacted by these very disruptions. These shoppers converted at close to triple the rate once ad injections were eliminated from their experience, abandoned checkout significantly less frequently, and viewed almost twice the number of pages during their web session.
This data speaks to the tremendous importance of the customer experience, and the growth that can be gained by online enterprises when their most engaged shoppers receive the optimal journey uninterrupted.