Study: Do you know what ads your online shoppers are seeing?

E-commerce retailers may be falling victim to a rapidly growing online advertising scam.

According to the 2018 benchmark report from e-commerce security platform Namogoo, 15% to 25% of all user web sessions experience “online journey hijacking,” or the injection of unauthorized ads into consumer web browsers. These include 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 WiFi networks. Retailers cannot see the unauthorized promotions because they occur on the user side of the interaction. Namogoo estimates online journey hijacking costs retailers between 2% and 5% of their annual revenue.

The benchmark also featured several other interesting data points:

• While Namogoo says all major desktop Web browsers exhibited high infection rates, Apple’s Safari web browser had the highest infection rate for both desktop and mobile users at 24.66% and 19.19%, respectively.

• Infection rates on desktops are generally higher than on mobile devices, which Namogoo attributes to the fact that while mobile browsing is increasing, most conversions still occur on desktops.

• Online journey hijacking impacts all retail verticals, but Namogoo analysis indicates the highest infection rates occur in the verticals of home (23.13%), apparel (22.99%), eyewear (20.45%), gifts and hobbies (18.28%) and health and beauty (17.64%).

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. According to Namogoo, these findings demonstrate the importance of the infected user segment to online business revenue.