Audience Hijacking Disrupts the Web Experience
April 11, 2023
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Audience hijacking is a widespread phenomenon that is estimated to disrupt up to 15% of e-commerce site visits, according to a survey conducted by Akamai Technologies and Retail Dive.

To enhance their in-browser experiences, many shoppers now install browser extensions, plug-ins, or other browser widgets to help find coupons or offer price comparisons. Sometimes these browser extensions are unknowingly installed on the consumer's device for malicious purposes and can divert visitors away from their intended journey, allowing competitors and malicious actors to disrupt e-commerce experiences.

The three main findings of the survey include:

Retailers are aware of hijacking

Retailers understand that audience hijacking is a big problem. A significant majority of survey participants (85%) said they were at least somewhat familiar with the concept of audience hijacking. As many as 72% said that they were very or extremely familiar with it. This finding highlights the fact that, at least among stakeholders within midsize to large retail organizations, there is broad awareness of the problem.

When asked whether audience hijacking presented a major challenge to their organization, a large majority (82%) of survey participants generally agreed that it was.

Retailers lack visibility

Retailers lack visibility into exactly what's going on during site visits. This is particularly in terms of extensions, pop-ups and scripts running within the customer's browser.

Although today's retailers invest heavily in every aspect of digital experience management, they're still unable to explain why a large number of cart abandonments occur.

As many as 82% of respondents say they lack visibility into the causes of cart abandonment for 5% of online transactions or more, or they simply don't know how often shopping carts are abandoned for reasons they can't determine. Of this group, 30% cannot explain cart abandonment for up to 24% of user sessions — a significant number of lost customer conversions.

Retailers underestimate the impact

Due to a lack of visibility, retailers tend to underestimate the likelihood that audience hijacking is causing churn. The survey results support this, showing 15% of participants said that audience hijacking wasn't a major challenge for their organization, yet 90% were seeing user sessions disrupted by such activities. Some admitted that they entirely lacked visibility into audience hijacking's prevalence.

But audience hijacking clearly continues to have a major impact on retailers with 28% of respondents reporting that its biggest impact is revenue loss.

A further 23% say that it is compromising ROI on digital marketing investments.

Nearly one-quarter of respondents (23%) indicate that audience hijacking has diminished their customers' loyalty, and 17% say it's causing fewer shoppers to make repeat purchases from their e-commerce stores.

Methodology: The survey respondents included more than 75 digital marketing, IT security and technology leaders in retail or e-commerce organizations with at least 1,000 employees.

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