Online Journey Hacking: Are You At Risk?

Natasha Sholl By Natasha Sholl | 23 Apr 2019

When he found out that ads could be injected into his company’s user base, bypassing server-side security, Chemi Katz Co-Founded a company to counteract it.

Online retailers today are well aware of the risks when it comes to e-commerce, from fraud to security breaches and everything in between. They also know what it takes to create a fully optimised and personalised site and how much work has to go into creating a seamless user journey. But what are Australian retailers doing about online journey hacking? The truth is that many aren’t even aware that this is an issue or what the impact is on their business.

“Online Journey Hijacking is a rapidly growing phenomenon where unauthorised ads are injected into consumer browsers. These invasive promotions are injected by digital malware that infects browsers and devices when users install software downloads or program updates, or in other cases, when they connect to public WiFi networks,” says Chemi Katz, Co-Founder and CEO of Namogoo. “Once the digital malware is running on the web browser or device, online consumers are exposed to injected product ads, pop-ups, banners, and in-text redirects when browsing e-commerce sites. Because this malware resides on the consumer’s browser or device, server-side security solutions lack visibility or control over the problem.”

Katz knows a thing or two about online journey hacking. While working in his previous company (e-commerce aggregator technology, Sepai) Katz was approached by an ad monetisation business who wanted to inject ads into the company’s user base (comprising 2.5 million active users). He discovered that they were able to bypass the server-side security of online businesses, exploiting a critical flaw they weren’t even aware of.

Ohad Greenshpan, who had founded Fashioholic (a marketing medium for brands and retailers) partnered with Katz and together they performed deep analysis on e-commerce sites. The scale of the issue surprised them both, despite their extensive e-commerce experience, and they immediately realised the opportunity to disrupt the industry with a solution to an unknown problem. They founded Namogoo in 2014,

In the course of analysing hundreds of millions of web sessions weekly, Namogoo’s data shows that 15 to 25 percent of all user web sessions are exposed to unauthorised ads. “The impact to online brands is devastating and estimated to cost businesses between 2 to 5 percent in annual revenue,” Katz tells us.

Namogoo has worked with Dollar Shave Club, ASICS, Argos, Samsonite and others brands and retailers, covering a variety of sectors online. “Our data shows that Online Journey Hijacking is impacting users across every region in the world. Since it is a client-side problem, consumers shopping online anywhere in the world, including Australia, become infected and therefore impacted in the same manner,” Katz explains.

“The fact that the digital malware driving these injected ads takes place purely on the consumer’s browser means server-side security solutions have no visibility into this problem, nor its scale and impact,” says Katz. “As the first company to discover and solve this unique client-side problem, Namogoo has also been leading efforts to educate the market about Online Journey Hijacking, how users get infected, and how it impacts online businesses’ digital experience, revenue, and brand equity.”

The issue is also that analytics tools will not capture the ads that are showing up on users’ devices. If a user clicks and leaves the website, the analytics tool will report this as a bounce rate, but it won’t know the reason behind that.

So what does Namogoo do? “Namogoo’s client-side solution detects and blocks unauthorised injected ads. Machine learning technology monitors and analyses millions of web sessions from the server all the way to customers’ browsers — and based on pattern analysis techniques — classifies invasive web activity and prevents it from running,” Katz explains. “By eliminating these invasive promotions, Namogoo consistently wins back revenue for online businesses and delivers a distraction-free journey.”

Namogoo

An example of ads interrupting the consumer purchase journey and costing retailers

“Online brands preventing Online Journey Hijacking with Namogoo are reporting a conversion rate increase of 2 to 5 percent. An increase in conversion rate is a game-changer for these retailers,” Katz tells Power Retail when asked about ROI for brands and retailers. “In addition to the increase in conversion rate, e-commerce brands benefit from overall improvements in their sales funnel, including an increase in Revenue Per Visitor (RPV), and a decrease in checkout abandonment and bounce rates.”

Given Katz and Greenshpan are experts when it comes to optimising the purchase journey, what are their top tips for increasing conversions?:

  1. Customers today expect brands to engage them with product offers that hyper-relevant and personalized to their interests. Embracing AI and Machine Learning-enabled solutions that capture and incorporate user behavior helps you recommend more relevant products and offers, and allows customers to search online the same way they’d ask a question to a salesperson in the store.
  2. It’s also very important to embrace the philosophy of constantly A/B testing different approaches as there is not one absolute approach that works the same for every company. Understanding how each test you’re running correlates with the specific KPI you’re measuring is critical. There are still too many cases where this is not done accurately.
  3. Once you have your customers engaged, removing friction at the bottom of your funnel is paramount. Checkout flow should be streamlined and payments should be the simplest and quickest part of your customers’ journey.
  4. All of these efforts and investment into optimising the online journey are only worthwhile if that’s what your customers get to experience at the end of the day. Preserving the intended customer experience from intrusive and evolving disruptions such as Online Journey Hijacking is critical making sure these digital investments shine through and yield ROI.

“To continually optimise your omnichannel customer journey, continued investment into innovations like Machine Learning and AI will be critical to building connected and frictionless journeys that harness consumer data, help you understand what converts, what funnel customers are coming from, how to improve post-transaction experiences, and use this data to better personalise marketing for each of your customer segments,” Katz adds.

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