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Don’t Let Digital Grinches Hijack Your Holiday Shoppers

Retailers have plenty of questions on their minds during the holiday shopping season. What will post-pandemic consumer spending look like? What effect will inventory levels and inflation have on profit margins? Will flagging consumer confidence impact brand loyalty? But there’s another crucial question you should be asking: What are the chances that “digital Grinches” will try to hijack your customer’s online shopping journey?

The numbers are concerning. Our research at Akamai has shown that, since 2020, up to 15 percent of e-commerce customers have had their shopping experience disrupted — or worse, diverted to malicious websites — through audience hijacking. In a recent study by studioID, 82 percent of online retail executives said audience hijacking presents a major challenge for their organization, resulting in lost revenue, reduced marketing return on investment, diminished customer loyalty, among other potential impacts.

The Multiple Threats Posed by Audience Hijacking

In a growing trend, third parties are injecting JavaScript into e-commerce sites through browser extensions and plug-ins to cause a variety of unwanted actions that can impact revenue, including:

  • Affiliate fraud: Abusers of an affiliate program inject an inline frame (iframe) onto an e-commerce site while a visitor is shopping. The iframe loads a fraudulent referral ID into the URL and a third party takes credit for affiliate sales they didn’t generate. This can cost a targeted website millions in fraudulent payments. Affiliate fraud has become a major issue. In the StudioID study, 49 percent of respondents stated affiliate fraud posed a significant problem at their organization, while 18 percent called it a severe problem.
  • Malicious and unauthorized ad injection: Unauthorized ads or notifications injected onto a site page…


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