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New Ponemon Institute Study Details the Financial Impact of Mixed Content Security Warnings on Retail Websites

April 21, 2015

NEW YORK, NY–(Marketwired – April 21, 2015) – The Ponemon Institute today released the results of a new survey quantifying the effect of mixed content security warnings and impacts on customer attrition across major U.S. retail websites. The study, “Economic Impact of Mixed Content Warnings on Consumer Behavior,” was independently conducted by Ponemon Institute, LLC and underwritten by Ghostery, Inc.

The results support what companies have been reporting nationwide — that Internet customers are abandoning shopping carts in record numbers as mixed content security warnings are appearing on web pages that retailers think are secure.

The study recorded the decisions of a representative sample of 1,577 U.S. adults as they encountered mixed content warnings on web pages at major brands. Among its findings:

Most survey respondents (67%) recalled seeing mixed content warnings on retail web pages either “frequently” or “very frequently” prior to participating in the study.
The main reason respondents gave for leaving websites without making a purchase was concern about a warning message displayed on a checkout page.
The average attrition rate (customers who would leave the site when a mixed content warning appeared) is 57%.
Based on that attrition rate and its previous research, Ponemon estimates the cost to the nation’s top 100 internet retailers of mixed content warning messages is $310 million per annum.
“This study proves the economic impact of a problem websites are dealing with daily. With so many vendors serving today’s retail sites to enhance the customer experience, non-secure code loads on pages marked as secure (https), causing the browser to initiate a mixed-content warning,” said Dr. Larry Ponemon, chairman and founder, The Ponemon Institute. “Often, customers are aware of these warnings before a brand discovers the non-secure code has been introduced.”

“Ponemon Institute’s findings are supported by a recent Ghostery study of 18 of the top 100 U.S. online retailers in the Ghostscore Index. Our results showed an average 8.74% of web pages at those 18 sites were likely to contain mixed content warnings at any time,” says Ghostery CEO Scott Meyer. “It is imperative that retailers monitor their vendors to ensure that tags being introduced to their sites don’t create user-experience issues.”

Among the major retailers with the highest percentage of visitors who saw non-secure calls on a page and then churned or discontinued their web sessions were: Walgreens.com (15.97%); Walmart.com (12.64%); and Target.com (8.31%).

The estimated monthly net gain for these retailers if they eliminated mixed content warnings from their sites is $345,724 (Walgreens); $4,249,173 (Walmart); and $331,851 (Target).

Meyer will be presenting the report results at Magento Imagine Conference in Las Vegas and DEMO Traction in San Francisco this week.

“Economic Impact of Mixed Content Warnings on Consumer Behavior” can be downloaded on the Ghostery website.

About Ponemon Institute
Ponemon Institute is dedicated to independent research and education that advances responsible information and privacy management practices within business and government. Its mission is to conduct high quality, empirical studies on critical issues affecting the management and security of sensitive information about people and organizations.

About Ghostery, Inc.
Ghostery empowers consumers and businesses to expose and eliminate digital blind spots in the Marketing Cloud — the collection of digital technologies that power, measure, socialize, and optimize websites and apps. Over 40 million people globally rely on the free Ghostery browser extension to see and control the technologies that follow them online. Businesses rely on Ghostery Marketing Cloud Management to drive ROI by maximizing the security, performance, and profitability of their digital assets Key clients like Equifax, Intercontinental Hotels Group and Procter & Gamble depend on Ghostery to take their digital business from chaos to control.

Ghostery also is the dominant provider of privacy governance services globally, powering compliance for more than $2 billion of advertising and e-commerce transactions annually. Founded in 2009, Ghostery is headquartered in New York City with a technology office in Salt Lake City and sales offices in London and San Francisco. The company is backed by Warburg Pincus, LLC, the global private equity fund. Learn more at Ghostery.com and @ghosteryinc.