‘Tis the season for checklists! As the new year begins, it’s important to adjust your online brand protection strategy to accommodate new challenges and opportunities. Put these recommendations to work to strengthen your online brand protection strategy for 2013.
1. Define your priorities and act early
Proactive measures can reduce brandjacking risks significantly. Use the intelligence provided by your brand protection program to fine-tune your priorities for combating abuse. Look for answers to questions such as: Which infringing Web sites receive the most traffic? Who are the top offenders? Where is abuse taking place? Remember, early detection and action will increase the success of brand protection efforts substantially. Rogue site operators are much more likely to comply with requests to take down their infringing domains when the infringement is detected in its beginning stages.
2. Establish clear ROI metrics
Smart brands measure the success of their brand protection program just as they do other digital marketing initiatives. Define concrete objectives for your brand protection program and track key performance indicators such as compliance rates, the number of recovered domains or product de-listings. In paid search, measure improvements in cost-per-click (CPC) for branded terms, along with boosts in Web traffic, conversion rates and revenues. Use those metrics to calculate overall ROI on your brand protection strategy.
3. Sync your brand protection strategy with your global business strategy
As more consumers around the globe turn to digital channels, scammers are quick to capitalize on new behaviors. Match your brand protection efforts to your brand’s global reach. Define a scalable approach for your company to easily adapt to geographic- and language-specific channels. Build brand protection into your entire product life cycle, starting before new products and services launch. Work with your legal team to coordinate trademark registration efforts with domain name registration efforts to multiply your brand defenses.
4. Monitor your affiliate and reseller channels for compliance
In digital channels, resellers and affiliates provide a multiplier effect in driving new customers and traffic to your site and generating incremental revenue. But when affiliates go astray and bid on branded keywords, they are intercepting traffic that was already seeking your brand. That means a higher CPC for you as well as unnecessary affiliate commissions. Develop a clear policy for use of branded keywords and track compliance.
5. Monitor social media
Even the most robust social media strategy is incomplete without a brand protection component. Make sure your brand is registered on leading social media sites and be sure to create geographic specific accounts for your global audiences. Monitor these sites for impersonation or fraud so your fans and followers can engage with your brand safely. When you detect malicious brand infringement, be sure to use the enforcement tools provided by these sites.
6. Prepare your brand for the launch of new gTLDs
The size of the domain name space is expected to increase dramatically in 2013 with the launch of new generic top-level domains (gTLDs). This expansion may present opportunities for your brand or introduce new risks. However, attempting to register domain names in every new gTLD will be cost-prohibitive. To free up resources for registrations in new gTLDs, cast a critical eye on your current domain portfolio and drop domains you no longer need.
In keeping with the season, here’s a prediction: brandjackers will continue to confuse users and attack global brands in the digital world. By applying these best practices to your online brand protection strategy, you’ll be better fortified to combat risks to your reputation and your revenue.