Protecting consumers and your reputation is critical to e-commerce success. A focused, deliberative strategy is needed to reduce infringement on key platforms and tackle large-scale criminal operators.
We discuss how to prioritize and work with key platforms to reduce the volume of infringement. We then guide you through the tools at your disposal, allowing you to deliver against your Brand Protection goals.
Part 1: How to prioritize platforms to review
It’s important to pick your battles and focus on threats that are most damaging to your brand and also where you are most likely to see ROI from your enforcement action. While Corsearch discovers, prioritizes, and acts against infringements across platforms of all sizes, we find that over 80% of high-risk infringements occur on around 20 key platforms.
When determining your focus there are three key points to consider:
1. Protect consumers and brand value: eliminate counterfeit product visible to potential consumer
Understand where your potential consumers shop. A good starting point is to identify key popular e-commerce platforms in each market and keep them clean from infringing product.
Keep an eye on the emerging platforms: the way consumers shop online is constantly evolving. Social Commerce is not a new concept, but COVID-19 has really accelerated the process – 2020 could be the year to watch as many social media platforms are investing in seamless commerce experiences.
2. Protect your own e-commerce channels and support authorized partners: eliminate consumer diversion from official selling channels:
Protect Official Websites: the majority of consumers are likely arriving at your website via organic or paid searches for your brand and products. Focus on first pages of Search Engines and Paid Search results;
Official Social Media Channels: audit social media platforms to eliminate impersonating pages and ads that cause consumer confusion;
Official and authorized Marketplace stores: focus on marketplace platforms where your brands have their own stores. Focus on top pages of results, top selling products and categories, sponsored listings.
This is a good place to engage your e-commerce and marketing teams that are likely to be the first ones to see the benefits of your enforcement efforts and be advocates of your brand protection program.
3. Tackle the source of the problem:
Focus on the platforms in the regions known for manufacturing counterfeits. B2B platforms and wholesalers are often the source of the counterfeit product ending up on the consumer facing markets.
Take a strategic approach to platform enforcement
Concentrating enforcement efforts on priority platforms and priority concerns will lead to better Brand Protection outcomes. The more you focus on a platform and knock-out infringement networks, the more effective your enforcement will be, allowing you to establish an effective deterrent against them coming back.
It is best to carve out specific goals around specific platforms, brands, products, IP, infringement types, etc. and to try to tackle the specific problem fully with the aim of sending a clear, credible message to counterfeiters.
A comparison of strategic enforcement versus non-strategic enforcement on 5 example platforms:
Part 2: How to prioritize infringements found on different platforms
Once you’ve narrowed down the focus of your Brand Protection program, you need to consider the strategy that will allow you to successfully balance the two aspects:
1. Reduce visibility of counterfeit products (B2C):
- Infringing offers on first pages of results that divert attention from genuine product
- Sponsored ads and listings as these are more likely to confuse the consumer
- Good metrics: Some marketplaces platforms (e.g. eBay, AliExpress) share information on the number of transactions made on a listing. The offers with highest sales transactions are more likely to be visible to consumer.
- Users and Sellers with high number of Likes, Favourites, and Followers have large audience and are more damaging
2. Remove large scale infringers (B2C and B2B):
- Sellers with large volume of stock
- Sellers with large numbers of infringing listings
- Sellers operating via multiple channels
Part 3: Tips for working with the e-commerce giants – Amazon, eBay, Alibaba & Facebook Marketplace
You need to work with the e-commerce and social media giants, plus other platforms, to get results. Most global platforms already have established processes and IP reporting tools available:
- Amazon: Online Portal and Brand Registry together with other piloted projects like Amazon Project Zero
- eBay: VeRO program
- Alibaba IPP platform
- Facebook has the webforms and Commerce and Ads IP tool
These tools allow brand owners and their agents to report such IP infringements as counterfeits and misuse of trademarks and copyright imagery. With time we see these tools evolve to address new infringer behavior with pressure from the brand owners.
Examples of this include the Facebook Commerce and Ads IP tool that identifies infringing ads on Facebook and Instagram and changes to the Amazon Brand Registry to address broader marketplace policy violations and introduce AI features to assist with proactive monitoring.
Unfortunately, these tools are not fully caught up to provide a robust response mechanism to emerging threats.
While the Amazon BR and Alibaba IPP tools are useful when it comes to sending out enforcements and getting items actioned quickly, they are not enough on their own because they do not provide robust capabilities for:
- Collecting comprehensive data and getting visibility on the scale and types of problems on a platform.
- Prioritization–organizing and grouping infringements for efficient enforcement;
- Identifying infringement networks and recurring activity; and
- Maintaining records of the items that have been actioned and reporting.
Corsearch’s Brand Protection platform, is a complementary tool that ensures that brands have all the data they need related to infringements and a way to easily export material for efficient enforcement using the platform tools.
Part 4: How to address new threats from emerging platforms
Social commerce is capturing demand for seamless consumer interactions, particularly from millennials and generation Z. Social media platforms are fast transforming from serving as a social marketing tool to e-commerce with users never having to leave the platform.
The primary players in social commerce are Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook and now also TikTok. TikTok, for example, has started to allow some users to add links to e-commerce sites to their profile biography as well as the ability to easily send their viewers to shopping websites.
Consumers are also being pushed to other platforms, including standalone e-commerce shops, such as Shopify which are easy to set up and maintain.
Strong platform relationships are essential
Many platforms claim they are not in a position to police themselves, both in terms of labor and technology capabilities, and the burden is still on IP owners to report the infringements. Maintaining strong relationships with both established and emerging platforms is therefore critical to successfully reducing infringement.
Brands should engage with platforms regularly and have direct contact with their team to understand how they work, and to be able to provide feedback on what works well and what can improve. Compliance and platform response times improve when you take the time to educate the platform about your brands.
We see that infringers behavior is constantly evolving and they adopt to avoid detection and enforcement. The ability to alert and advise platforms on these trends is essential to keeping up with bad actors.
When engaging emerging platforms, we suggest taking the following approach as part of your relationship building exercise:
- Identify relevant contacts: support and legal teams
- Educate the platforms about the risks posed by counterfeit products to the consumer and platform reputation
- Share the best practices of what other platforms are doing
- Consider cultural and business context
- Engage in their own language if possible
- Consider which platforms to tackle first based on where your consumers are, the volume of issues, your commercial objectives and how much impact you need to make to reduce your problem.
- Engage with the platforms in a positive way, embrace their tools and give them feedback about where you would like to see them improve.
- Keep an eye on the new and emerging platforms in case you need to add those to your top platform list.
With the huge challenges facing all businesses as the world rapidly moves to online retail, consumer trust in digital channels is critical. There has never been a more important time to revisit how you approach protecting your brand and consumers on e-commerce platforms.
Corsearch can help you successfully prioritize and work with key platforms, enabling you to take a strategic approach to enforcement. Learn more about our sophisticated Brand Protection platform and managed service with a personalized technology demo, or talk to one of our experts to find out more about how we can help you capture additional e-commerce revenues while protecting your consumers from digital risk.
Access our on-demand webinar exploring platform best practices – taking insights from our work with leading and emerging platforms from around the world, our panel of Brand Protection experts share how to collaborate and work strategically with platforms