November will see the start of the holiday season in many areas across the world. Millions of us will prepare to spend our hard earnt cash in the sales in the run up to the Holiday period. It is now recognized that Chinese Singles Day, held annually on the 11th of November, officially kicks off the six-week period of frenzied online activity. This rolls onto Black Friday and Cyber Monday, before attention turns to the Holidays. With the onslaught of traditional post-festive period sales, brands prepare this holiday season for the unexpected.
To put some perspective on the huge value of the online holiday ecommerce market, two years ago Chinese Singles Day saw over $31 billion spent in a 24-hour period, a figure that was exceeded in just an hour of online trade in 2020. It is anticipated that the 2021 figure will dwarf these previous numbers. Ten years ago, the holiday shopping season was dominated by Black Friday (and the linked Cyber Monday). This tandem has continued to grow – in 2020 the revenue associated with the long weekend was $14 billion – up by $3 billion from 2019.
All good news for brands, right?
Brands have allowed counterfeiters to not only track, but even outstrip this growth. The amount of infringements online, especially counterfeit products remains high. This not only damages brand holders’ revenues but can in many cases risks the health and safety of consumers. Many counterfeits are made with substandard, even dangerous materials that do not comply with health & safety legislation.
The pervasive nature of the digital world and how it shapes our everyday lives is certainly an opportunity that global brands maximize. Brands create omnichannel strategies designed to increase engagement and ultimately, purchases. But with that great opportunity comes an increased exposure of risks – not just to consumers but to the brands themselves.
Preparation is key to maximize the opportunities that the holiday season brings but also to mitigate the risks and threats to consumers, revenues, and reputations. Brand holders need to be seen as proactive, especially at this time of the year. Their valuable IP and digital assets are targeted by fraudsters who look to maximize the opportunity the holiday season brings their illicit gains.
Brand holders will have planned their holiday season marketing campaigns, promotions, sales tactics, and digital strategies for months. They struggle to remain one step ahead of the competition in the annual battle: gain share of consumers’ expenditures.
But here’s the bad news – so have the fraudsters and counterfeiters.
They will have created their own marketing plans, budgets, and tactics in attempts to divert the revenues away from genuine brand holders. Morals, ethics, and compliance do not normally factor high on their list of business practices, which means genuine brand holders need to be prepared for the unexpected.
A successful brand protection strategy is to work with a partner with experience in collaboration with global organizations. Expertise in key marketplaces and social media channels. To have the knowledge of not only how to detect but to remove or take down (and ensure brand infringers stay down) infringements quickly is vital. The longer infringements or reputationally harmful material remain live, the more harm it can cause to both brand holders and consumers.
The digital landscape has continued to grow. Global online users continue to arrive for the first time. Some brands still take that first step onto the internet. So is the number of social media channels and marketplaces available. Partnerships with companies equipped with mechanisms in place to crawl all across digital properties is key. Aligning with companies armed with deep and impactful relationships alongside established properties, takes this a step further. The power to gather actionable intelligence is absolutely key to the implementation of a successful brand protection strategy.
Brand infringements at this time of the year have traditionally focused on anticounterfeit material. There has been a significant rise in malicious activity though new social channels and mobile apps in the last several years. In 2018, Chinese online security firm 360 Security Brain reported that nearly 4,000 fake e-commerce apps were downloaded in the days that lead up to Chinese Singles Day. In December 2019, over 65,000 fake apps were identified by security consultancy Intercepted. Fake apps are used by criminals to harvest personal and financial data. Through stealthy means, they additionally download malware and other malicious software onto devices.
Brands must find infringements, and align it as the core strategy alongside brand protection provider. Whether that is through domain name, website, social media, or app store surveillance. However, it is the effectiveness in how they remove the risks and infringements offline permanently that sets providers apart. Brands that prepare this holiday season can seek professional guidance.
Organizations such as OpSec have long-established relationships with marketplaces, domain registrars, web host companies and social media channels. Companies like OpSec provide the highest levels of takedown compliance through developed industry-standard practices. Not only are threats removed, but exposed under the surface are hidden counterfeit networks often associated to organized crime. When brands look at infringements this way, actionable and network intelligence reveals clusters become more easily enforceable.
This time of year brings many challenges to businesses and their brands. Organizations attempt to maximize their online footprint and convert web traffic into revenue. In this pursuit, they must ensure there is no leakage to illegal channels. Brands can prepare this holiday season is to understand the threat landscape. Equally and vitally important – brands need to have mitigation actions at hand. Brands may collaborate or work with an expert partner, such as OpSec Security, who can provide the actionable intelligence. The right relationships with the key industry stakeholders and the expertise to remove infringements and malicious online material swiftly means the holiday season will be one of cheer and not fear for brand holders.
Author: Stuart Fuller