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GUEST COMMENT Why retailers need to have an online brand protection strategy

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Ecommerce is a growth industry, surging forward at a dramatic pace. Recent statistics released by the Centre for Retail Research in the UK indicate that the online sale of goods and services grew by 15.8% to £44.97 bn in 2014, and was expected to grow by a further 16.2% in 2015. With a clear increase in online shopping behaviour, protecting your brand online has never been more important.

The online environment provides tremendous opportunities for retailers. However, due to the anonymous, instantaneous and open nature of the internet, there are also several disadvantages – including counterfeiting, brandjacking, loss of revenue, and damage to reputation. It is here that a comprehensive brand protection strategy can be used to curb these potentially damaging activities.

The need for an online brand protection strategy to address these risks has never been greater. During the last twelve months, this has perhaps become more important in light of developments in the Internet name space.

The launch of the new generic top-level domains (gTLDs) has seen a dramatic increase in the number of gTLDs with more than 600 new ones coming into play in the next three years. The changes to gTLDs has to form an integral part of an organisation’s future online brand protection strategy, whether the company decides to register, block or police the brand in the new registries.

Evidence shows that early detection and action substantially increase the success of brand protection efforts. Rogue site operators are much more likely to comply with requests to take down infringing domains when the infringement is detected early, before they invest significant time or money building the site and driving traffic to it. In other words, timely detection—and ongoing vigilance in monitoring rogue sites—leads to better enforcement results.

By using your branded keywords, imposter sites siphon your organic search traffic. Another common practice is for counterfeiters to run their own search advertising campaigns to tout their fake wares. Not only do you lose valuable traffic, but you’re also forced to compete against your own branded keywords, driving up digital marketing costs and compromising campaign performance.

How big is the problem? Our data shows rogue websites selling counterfeit wares generate more than 53 billion visits per year. Many consumers find these sites through search engines while seeking legitimate goods. We recently analysed search terms and found that for every shopper searching for fake goods, 20 other shoppers were simply looking for bargains. One in five of those bargain hunters fell for a counterfeit site, and would have purchased the real thing if they hadn’t been cheated and misled. This calls for investing in a comprehensive digital brand protection strategy which includes effective enforcement.

Partnering with brand protection experts can yield even greater returns, using best practices to guide effective enforcement and providing deeper intelligence into counterfeiters’ activities. Every department across your organization – from manufacturing and marketing to branding, customer support, IT and legal – can leverage this information to produce measurable results with compelling ROI, further boosting the your bottom line.

Simon Whitehouse is senior director, EMEA at MarkMonitor

© 2015 MarkMonitor Inc. All rights reserved. MarkMonitor® is a registered trademark of MarkMonitor Inc., part of the Intellectual Property & Science business of Thomson Reuters.

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