At an industry round table event in November 2021, we asked brand protection leaders about what their main priority for 2022 would be. See the results below:
Collaboration, both internally and externally, are key priorities. We saw increased collaboration throughout 2021, but there is a still much more progress to be made with platforms and other intermediaries. Gaining a greater of understanding of overall threats to brands also ranked highly – in line with a growing appetite for better-quality and more comprehensive data. Another key priority is reporting impact, with teams looking to calculate the ROI of their programs and whether they are reducing the volume of online infringement.
Read this blog to learn more about these key priority areas and why brand protection teams are focusing on them.
Increasing the volume of takedowns
The top result is increasing the number of takedowns, with 22% of participants claiming this is their key priority.
While it’s understandable, particularly during periods of instability and an increase in online abuse, that teams focus on core goals of removing threats, it does suggest there’s an opportunity for teams to progress to think about both delivering more long-term outcomes with enforcement (such as reducing infringement saturation on priority channels), and to work towards other strategic goals that deliver commercial value.
One of the ways to progress in this way is by enhancing how teams show the impact of the brand protection program, so it’s promising to see this rank joint-second as a top priority (18%), alongside gaining a greater understanding of threats.
Enhancing how teams report the impact of their programs
18% of participants ranked enhancing how they report the impact of their programs as their top priority.
Businesses are recognizing that reporting should go beyond the number of takedown notices sent. This metric does little to show real impact, leaving two crucial questions unanswered: 1. Are the enforced listings or websites staying down? 2. Is there a reduction in infringement volume across the platform or channel?
Therefore teams should pivot to using KPIs that focus on reducing the volume of infringement and cleaning up priority platforms or channels help teams demonstrate impact. With this approach, teams can also free up resources for other value-adding activities. They can then deliver commercial value to the business and vastly increase return on investment.
There are several outcomes that you can monitor to gauge the effectiveness of your brand protection program. Examples include:
- Reducing the levels of infringement on a priority platform. I.e. versus the previous month or the last six months
- Reducing the number of issues on each of your priority channels.
- Reducing infringement saturation – I.e. for a given search term on marketplaces how many listings returned are illegitimate vs. legitimate?
- The impact on online revenue
Gaining a greater understanding of threats
Data is critical. This is increasingly the message coming from brand protection teams.
18% of participants said gaining a greater understanding of overall threats to their brands is the top priority for their team.
To achieve this, datasets need to be comprehensive – covering all key platforms and channels – and of high-quality – so teams can prioritize the high-risk threats without having to wade through streams of irrelevant data.
One method for improving data relevancy is taking a network-based approach to brand protection: collecting data from multiple sources and connecting related entities.
Indeed, 74% of brands are attempting to take a network-based approach (INSYNC webinar: “Intelligence & Investigations Masterclass – The Key to an Integrated Approach”).
Network analysis technology enables this approach. Businesses use network analysis technology to automatically identify and prioritize the online networks that threaten their consumers and brand, by connecting the multiple datapoints across every part of an infringer’s online operation.
Understanding a network involves connecting an individual to their varying online identities, then connecting these identities to various websites, seller IDs and accounts across multiple marketplaces and other online channels. There are many different types of data that can be used to build up a profile.
Securing additional budget
4% of participants stated that securing additional budget is their top priority for 2022.
In order to secure budget, brand protection teams need to build awareness and recognition of the importance of what they do. Core considerations when attempting to engage with senior leadership include:
- Looking beyond takedown numbers and justify investment in commercial terms.
- The strategic goals will vary by company. You need to think about what matters to your business and make sure you focus on what is measurable.
- Showing that the uplift in revenue, plus any cost efficiencies, are greater than the cost of the program. When calculating costs, you should factor in the resources that are freed up to focus on other tasks.
There are multiple tools you can use to measure the performance of brand protection:
Return On Investment (ROI) Calculation
Look at the correlation between enforcement and your e-commerce sales (measuring from the same region).
Marketplace test on a platform-by-platform basis to monitor sales growth before and after enforcement. This can provide compelling evidence of the success of targeted enforcement.
Unauthorized sellers’ sales volumes
Find examples of unauthorized sellers and their actual sales volumes to demonstrate revenue leakage. Consider combining quantitative data with storytelling to really hit the message home with senior leadership.
Halting enforcement as a test
Finally – it’s extremely powerful to illustrate what happens if you suddenly stop enforcement.
Increasing internal collaboration
Increasing internal collaboration is cited as a key priority by 11% of participants.
The type of value that brand protection teams generate depends on the industry – the common denominator is that it will always extend beyond the brand protection function. Key functions that you may be able to engage include:
- Supply chain & distribution
In order to facilitate collaboration, you’ll need to demonstrate the value of brand protection activity to the respective function. You must also speak their language to build a shared understanding – for marketing it may be about trust, brand values or campaign efficiency, for e-commerce it is likely to be focused on sales, or for security it can be helpful to focus on threats like phishing.
Improving relationships with marketplace & social media platforms
In total, 24% of participants said their key priority in 2022 is to improve relationships with marketplaces (14%) and social media platforms (10%).
Strong platform relationships are critical to protecting consumers and ensuring a long-term reduction in brand abuse. Where your consumers shop and who they purchase from are key considerations when choosing the platforms you prioritize and develop robust relationships with.
Once key platforms to monitor and enforce on are identified, brand protection teams should seek to engage with them directly:
- Establish key contacts and organizing regular meetings
- Sign-up for the platform’s brand protection program and tools
- Using brand protection technology, monitor infringement trends and changes in behavior
- Engage the platform at events and webinars
A combination of direct communication, understanding platforms’ processes & policies, and intelligence sharing means your enforcement efforts are strategic and more likely to be successful. Compliance and platform response times both improve with a strong relationship.
In a separate INSYNC poll, participants indicated that they would be willing to share more data with platforms. As expected, product and brand knowledge received the highest share of the vote (73%), and indeed is often the first type of data to be shared.
Interestingly, many brands indicated that they are willing to share trends seen on other online marketplaces (64%) and seller information (46%) – this would help to create a more joined-up, multi-stakeholder approach to fighting online infringement.
What are your brand protection priorities?
We expect that brand protection teams will continue to evolve their strategies and foster both internal and external collaboration, allowing them to better protect consumers and grow their e-commerce revenues. Perhaps most critically, with a sharper focus on reporting impact and building a narrative around outcomes, teams can build recognition of brand protection as an activity that has wide applications across the business. To learn more, get in touch.