Brand abuse on the rise

Brand abuse on the rise

Well-Known World Brand Logotypes28/01/2014: In the digital world any company with a recognised brand is a potential target for a sophisticated and evolving array of attacks warns US online brand protection company MarkMonitor.

According to MarkMonitor, over US$350 billion (£212) was lost in online brand abuse last year and it is what they label a ‘significant and growing’ threat.

Apart from the obvious revenue loss, the financial impact can also result in increased service costs and exposure to legal issues, not to mention the damage to brand reputation and customer trust.

MarkMonitor report that statistics show:

  • 28% increase in domain squatting in 2010
  • 53 billion visits to rogue sites in the last 12 months
  • 14% of branded paid search traffic is hijacked

The company has prepared a list of the top ten protection strategies for 2014  for consideration when planning brand protection strategies.  They are:

1.  The new reality: Generic top-level domains are here
Whether new generic top-level domains (gTLDs) represent new prospects for your business or another front to defend, every brand needs a strategy to address them. As hundreds of new gTLDs come onto the market, this is the time to decide whether to register, block or police your brands in the new registries. Work with your colleagues in legal and risk management, balancing risks, opportunities and budget constraints to develop your strategy.

 2. Time to rethink your defences
With 600+ gTLDs expected to launch over the next three years, no company can afford to register every key brand term in every new extension. Most companies will need to rethink their approach to brand protection, shifting from a strategy based pon traditional defensive domain registrations to one that monitors the expanded Internet namespace for brand abuse. If you don’t already have established guidelines, your legal, brand protection and risk management teams should work with you to develop policies for detecting and mitigating domains that infringe on your trademarks and steal your traffic.

3.  Maximise brand protection investments with more efficient enforcement

As your company develops its brand protection plans, technology enables you to scale your enforcement efforts and gain greater efficiencies. New technology can uncover crucial data that charts the relationship between rogue websites, identifying entire networks consisting of thousands of domain names. As a result, enforcement measures can disable entire networks of rogue sites rather than targeting sites one-by-one. This technology-centric strategy speeds up your investigations, maximizes the effectiveness of your legal strategies and produces greater ROI from your litigation investments. Learn more about how fashion and luxury brands are using technology to fight against rogue e-commerce websites.

 4.  Make domain security a priority
Hackers and hacktivists are hijacking domains with more frequency, redirecting or taking down sites altogether. No brand wants to see its company featured in the headlines as the victim of a domain hack! Domains are business-critical assets that demand around-the-clock protection to maintain business continuity and brand reputation. Be sure to employ multiple layers of protection, including state-of-the-art
security from your domain name registrar. Learn the key steps to safeguarding your domains.

5. Tailor your brand protection strategy for greater success in Asian markets
Asia continues to be a fast-growing market and a hotbed for brand abuse. Successfully addressing these abuses requires a tailored brand protection strategy that accounts for local differences. Ensure your trademark registrations account for the requirements of different jurisdictions. Become familiar with the wide variety of promotional and distribution channels serving Asian markets and monitor both types of channels for brand abuse. Be sure to employ native-speaking brand protection professionals who thoroughly understand local Asian markets and their country-specific policies.

6. Keep up with fast movers – social media and mobile
Brandjackers are quick to take advantage of rapidly growing digital channels, impersonating brands in social media and mobile. Both markets are fluid and evolving rapidly: new social networks or hot apps can dominate in mere months and acquisitions by larger companies can shift social platforms’ policies and approaches. Your brand protection strategy needs to be similarly fluid to stay ahead of brandjackers. Social sites in global markets such as China are also on the rise, requiring brands to develop a global monitoring strategy to head off brand issues. Learn more about how to protect your brand in social media.

7. Cut off the pirates’ revenue stream
Pirate sites rely upon ad revenues–and unwitting advertisers–to fund their illicit endeavours. A successful strategy is to collaborate with advertising networks and exchanges as well as payment providers to automatically identify and remove ads hosted on pirate sites, disrupting pirates’ ability to profit and removing the threat to your brand’s lustre.

 8. Brand trust matters more in an omnichannel world
In today’s omnichannel world, consumers demand a seamless and authentic brand experience across channels. Whether researching a purchase, engaging in social media or conducting a transaction on the go, consumers seek “the real deal.” Brandjackers are acutely aware of this, impersonating brands with lookalike sites–and lookalike apps–to lure traffic, confusing customers and driving up digital marketing costs. Recent research revealed that one in five online shoppers was duped into visiting a site selling counterfeit goods while seeking digital deals. Savvy companies can continue to build consumer trust in the digital world with a comprehensive brand protection strategy that safeguards their customers from malicious brand impersonators.

9.  Protect your digital content
Every company has digital content that needs to be protected: from movies, music, software or games to patents, client lists, software development kits or databases. If it has value, it’s vulnerable. Evaluate threats against your digital assets and develop a plan to protect them. Focus on how search engines may be driving traffic to sharing or cyberlocker sites that may be permitting unauthorized access to your digital content.

 10.  Protecting your brand in the ‘big data’ era yields business intelligence
A well-designed brand protection strategy for the digital world will not only safeguard your brand and your customers, but will also build competitive advantages. Use the data generated by your brand protection program to understand the market gaps that drive consumers to counterfeit goods and fill that need proactively by building new marketing, pricing, service and distribution strategies to capitalize on consumer demand. Partnering with your legal or brand protection teams can yield valuable insights that increase legitimate sales while undermining counterfeiters.