What Fighting Counterfeiting Has To Do With Your Marketing Budget

In light of Alibaba's recent record-breaking IPO on Wall St., whatever you think of it, it points to a sign that eCommerce is exploding, with no end in sight. With this explosion comes another type of explosion. It is one you should be wary of, and while not trying to sound like an Alarmist, I highly suggest allocating a part of your marketing budget to fighting online counterfeiting. While this is just one of quite a few online threats, it is one that will steal from your bottom line, damage your reputation and more. Don't you think this is enough to consider implementing some type of Brand Protection Tool?

As marketing budgets are planned and tweaked constantly over the year, it is paramount that part of that budget is dedicated to combating online threats to the brand you spent so much time and effort in building.

In this post, I will address the online counterfeiting threat to your brand, specifically the threat that traffic diversion poses.

Protecting Your Brand

Chief Marketing Officers have a lot going on. They are constantly looking to create new strategies to drive demand, for product launches and  promotions. They gather requirements in their market, assess the market's competitive landscape while optimizing marketing initiatives and associated budgets. The protection of their brand online has brought a new aspect to traditional branding and marketing budget allocation.

This fairly recent threat is at the core of the desire of scammers, cyber criminals, squatters and the like to steal traffic from your brand. These criminal actors have perfected the art of designing websites, search engine marketing and promotion on the web. They have created professional looking websites that even some of the most seasoned consumers might take as the real thing. Counterfeiting has moved from the crowded market hawker to a place that is global and where more people can be taken for a ride, at your expense.

The global reach that the Internet provides and the anonymous aspect is just too attractive for these online scammers. Their phony sites are on the ready to serve the traffic you've spent so much time and money in creating. Your Brand's success, if not protected, can easily become their success and your downfall.  Not only is your bottom line affected, but also the threat to the reputation and the good name of your brand.

Traffic Theft

Diverting traffic, is at the core of the online abuse of your brand. Many of these scammers use the same online marketing tools that legitimate marketers do. Hijacking Online Search is at the core of their craft.

There are two main ways they achieve this:

-They utilize SEO (with many of your trademarked keywords) to boost search traffic to their bogus sites along with cybersquatting.

-Search Engine Marketing has actually become easier rather than harder for counterfeiters, as a slew of the major search engines have minimized restrictions on the use of trademarked terms as well as keywords

Traffic theft waters down the investments you made, cuts into your response and conversion rates. Basically, all you've worked so hard in building is actually being held hostage and being used against your brand.

Numbers don't Lie

Let's take a look at the numbers to put things in perspective. Across industries over $13B dollars annually is budgeted for search marketing. Experian HitWise has reported that 14% of branded searches are diverted to sites other than the brand owner's site. If you take a look at these factual numbers, you'll discover that just north of $1.8B of Industry-wide budgets for search is diverted.

Realizing ROI

In order for you to realize numbers and the ROI you will gain in implementing a protection tool just against online counterfeiting, just see how much of your traffic is being diverted. Assess how many conversions you have lost and leads that you would have seen had your traffic not been diverted, and you will soon see the numbers with regards to your lost revenue.

Judging by industry-wide stress on increased marketing accountability and ROI, you will realize, hopefully sooner than later, that a sufficient part of your marketing budget should be allocated to combating the threat that online counterfeiting poses to your brand.