In a list of top 10 tactics employed, the spawning of unsolicited "pop-up" ads and "mouse-trapping"- where users can't go back or exit-lead the list.
The Cyveillance study reveals that 30% of top sites in the U.S. and 20% of top sites in European domains employ spawning techniques. Leading sites are heavier users of this tactic; however, 12% of the sites on the Internet overall also employ spawning. Additionally, mouse-trapping tactics were found on 5.2% of the sites on the Internet. Both tactics are highly disruptive to the customer and expose them to content they would otherwise not have elected to view.
Brian Murray, senior director of client services at Cyveillance said that more than 25% of top destination sites are now using tactics in an apparent attempt to divert and capture shoppers. "There is undoubtedly a growing level of consumer frustration online that poses a threat to global brands."
Based on the criteria of frequency, level of intrusiveness and potential for damage, the study found that the top 10 technology tactics used to entangle shoppers on the web were the following:
1. - Spawning - often called "pop-ups" that were pioneered in the pornography industry. Typically, this occurs as an automatic launch of new browser windows upon entering a site, upon exit, on delay, or other triggers.
2. - Mouse-trapping - disables the user's ability to go back, exit or close while viewing the page.
3. - Invisible seeding - the hiding of content to optimize search service rankings. This is sometimes referred to as meta-tagging or traffic diversion, one of the most common intellectual property abuses perpetrated against top consumer brands.
4. - Unauthorized software downloads - invades a consumer's privacy by leaving behind software that can contain embedded advertising or tracking capabilities. Often this is coupled with the mislabeling of buttons, so a download occurs when either "yes" or "no" is selected.
5. - Spoof pages - pages that are placed in a site specifically for the purpose of attracting search engine traffic for higher ranking on search results. These are also called magnet pages, where content is seeded with select words, brands, slogans and personalities to draw traffic.
6. - Typo-piracy and cyber-squatting - sites playing word games by using misspellings and derivations of a popular brand used to divert traffic to an unintended site. It is not uncommon to see thousands of derivations of popular brand names in registered domain lists.
7. - Changing home page or favorites - unauthorized substitution of a new home page setting or changes to the user's "favorites" list. Approximately 1.4% of sites on the Internet engage in one of these two intrusive tactics.
8. - Visible seeding - using visible means of placing popular brands, slogans and proprietary content into a site to optimize search engine rankings. Placing a brand name in the title bar at the top of a window would be one such example. For brand names, this can create false affiliation to objectionable content.
9. - Mislabeling links - false labeling of hyper links that send the shopper to an unintended destination.
10. - Framing - a way of holding on to a customer; the shopper thinks they have left, but they haven't. Users are kept on the original site while viewing the content of another, through the original site's window. The original site can increase ad revenue via higher visit time statistics.
"As the economic downturn drives companies to seek revenue by all available means, it is no surprise to see these innovative tactics emerge into the consumer mainstream," said Panos Anastassiadis, president and CEO of Cyveillance. "These activities serve to reemphasize the uncontrolled nature of the Internet environment and the critical need for continued Internet intelligence."