A few weeks ago, Appdetex had the opportunity to take part in an informative and timely webinar with industry leaders from Zoom and Uber. The webinar, Brand Protection Priorities for 2022, focused on the lessons these experts had learned this past year and how they planned to use those lessons to determine their brand protection priorities and brand protection strategies for the coming year. 

The previous year was a year of big changes, for both brands and consumers alike. The worldwide pandemic continued to influence our lives, and many of the shifts we made in 2020 to help control its spread morphed into the ‘new normal.’ Hybrid work situations and telecommuting continued, and the adoption of digital communication and collaboration software increased. In addition, we saw the increased reliance on e- and m-commerce to purchase everyday staples. 

We also saw an increase in the number of bad actors taking advantage of this new digital boom, reaching out and engaging with victims in new and increasingly sophisticated ways. In fact, brand abuse in 2021 was more organized, digital, insidious, and evasive than any year prior, with bad actors relying heavily on systemic brand abuse networks to perpetrate their crimes. These networks rely on mimicking the legitimate marketing techniques and methods legitimate brands use, utilizing platforms like social media, mobile apps, and websites to lure victims. In fact, we have found that 1 in 3 likely infringements are linked to a brand abuse network.

These networks are so intertwined and contain so many layers that enforcing upon them using traditional brand protection methods leads to little more than frustrating whack-a-mole scenarios, where one enforcement results in three new infringements popping up to take its place.

With that in mind, here are five things the expert panel reminds brands to do in order to protect their brands and ensure that consumers’ brand interactions are authentic and safe.

  1. Define objectives - and be prepared to re-visit them as abuse evolves: When faced with a problem like a systemic brand abuse network, defining your end goal or the desired result is one of the most important steps you can take. Successful abuse abatement programs focus on the elements of brand abuse that are causing the most harm. Prioritizing your enforcement efforts lets you set tangible goals, establish benchmarks, and assign appropriate tasks to the various members of your brand protection team. This is especially important as bad actors shift their tactics or techniques.
  2. Assemble a multi-discipline team: Online brand protection initiatives can be overwhelming. The best brand protection teams rely on the expertise and insight from their extended organizations to fight abuse. Team members include both internal and external resources such as cybersecurity specialists, inside and outside counsel, investigators, and vendors. Document your workflows to ensure that the team stays on task and executes as planned.
  3. Multi-channel monitoring is key: Bad actors utilize multiple digital channels when building their brand abuse networks. These channels often parallel those used by your colleagues in marketing, e-commerce, or social media. Aggressively monitor those digital channels for any signs of abuse targeting your brand along every step of your buyer’s journey. These can include social media platforms, entertainment sites, mobile apps, and new domain registrations, among others.  
  4. Create or adopt systems that help you prioritize the most harmful abuse: Modern brand abuse requires modern brand protection technology to uncover the systemic brand abuse networks threatening your brand. Identifying these networks will help you understand where you are most vulnerable and where you need to focus your efforts. Prioritizing your efforts will better help you achieve the results you set when you established your program objectives. 
  5. Focus on dismantling networks from the root: Avoid the dreaded whack-a-mole scenario by focusing on organized networks of bad actors rather than single instances of infringement. When you uncover a brand abuse network, map them so you can identify the ones that are the most complicated and then use that intelligence to create a strategy to dismantle and disable them. You may need to examine privacy policies, payment, and monetization methods or use experts who can inspect the source code for web pages and apps.  Any of these indicators can show how these networks are connected and provide solid indicators of the identity of the perpetrators. Use this information to take the network down from the root. 

The year 2022 looks to be a continuation of 2021 when it comes to our increasing reliance on digital technology. Ensuring the safety of your consumers and the ongoing resiliency of your brand requires moving beyond legacy brand protection methods. Having a modern brand protection plan in place that is focused on taking down entire brand abuse networks will help ensure your customers have safe, authentic experiences with your brand.  

To learn more about modern brand protection, cutting-edge brand protection trends, and how Appdetex can put our patent-pending Tracer® technology to work on your behalf, click here.

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