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The 4 most common ways your digital customers are being hijacked

Customer Journey Hijacking through malvertising is a way in which the customer journey on a site is interrupted through advertisements for unauthorized products, malware, pop-ups, and ad banners to divert visitors to another site, even that of the competition, which hurts eCommerce KPIs and brand equity.

Simply, traffic hijackers prey on your eCommerce visitors. They know how much money and resources brands like yours are committing to attract relevant buyers to their websites. And these traffic hijackers know that all they have to do to profit is to target this quality, ready-to-buy traffic and redirect it to other eCommerce offerings.

To do this, they need to reach their customers before they come to your eCommerce site, and they accomplish exactly that by bundling their ad injections with the many free software services that consumers download every day. This allows them to offer your site visitors your ad inventory and sell impressions and clicks to ad networks.

There are four main ways to do it:

1. Develop and distribute supposedly legitimate (and in most cases free) software services that secretly include ad injectors. These services are then marketed as consumer value-adding software, such as desktop software (for example, file converters, media players, and antivirus programs), browser extensions (for example, coupon and offer notifications), and mobile applications (for example, example, device performance enhancers and games).

2. Incentivize other legitimate software services to include their ad injectors via setup wizards for a fee each time a user downloads and installs your software (install fee).

3. Trick consumers into downloading popular and legitimate software through an unauthorized alternative source that discreetly installs ad injectors alongside legitimate software.

4. Take advantage of free public Wi-Fi access points (eg in cafes, hotels, airports, etc.) that monetize their services through advertising injections.

What do traffic hijackers achieve?

After a consumer downloads a service that includes ad injections, traffic hijackers use a three-step process to deliver the most attractive ads at the most promising times to maximize their revenue. Is that how it works:

1. The ad injector tracks the consumer's online browsing activity and creates a personal profile based on their preferences, habits, and other characteristics.

2. When the consumer visits an e-commerce website, the ad injector automatically uses the personal profile it has developed to display targeted ads.

3. When a consumer clicks on an injected ad, that ad takes them to a different website.

4. Since injected ads run entirely on the consumer's browser or device, they cannot be seen by eCommerce site owners at all, much less how they affect the experience and behavior of these affected customers.

For good reason, traffic hijackers go to great lengths to keep it that way. They constantly update their ad injection software and add new services and extensions with injections to kill traffic without being detected. And when one of your extensions from time to time gets caught and removed from the web store, they get remodeled and work again under a different name.

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