Protecting against brand impersonation and false association in mobile channels

Date: Fri, 07/18/2014 - 12:25 Source: By Jerome Sicard, MarkMonitor

Where consumers go, so do scammers
Protecting against brand impersonation and false association in mobile channels

Jerome Sicard, MarkMonitor

Image credited to MarkMonitor

According to US e-commerce publication Internet Retailer, in 2013 smartphones and tablets made up almost 35 percent of online traffic and Goldman Sachs analysts recently predicted that m-commerce growth will increase by more than $420 billion by 2018. It’s clear that consumers are flocking in ever increasing numbers to mobile channels to research and make purchases and where consumers go, so do scammers.
Mobile apps offer companies and brands wonderful potential for creating awareness, carrying out promotion and driving sales.  Methods can vary depending on the brand and on the target audience but for example some brands use “promotional games” formats to create awareness while being entertaining, some other use in-app stores to complete their omni-channel strategies.  Banks, for example, use it more to improve the quality of service, rather than for promotion.
But there are inherent dangers for companies that choose to use apps in their marketing strategy. The main risk is that consumers might believe that an app they download belongs to a particular brand when it fact does not. Once downloaded a whole range of problems can happen and, while the brand is not directly responsible, the consumer will probably blame them.  There are many ways that “fake and illegitimate” apps can hurt brands, ranging from damage to the brands reputation to loss of potentially lucrative m-commerce sales.
Ideally by finding a way to constantly monitor the most visible app markets, brands and companies control their corporate image in apps – but this is easier said than done, especially if you don’t have technology to help you. The world of apps is fast changing and, to be protected (and protect their customers), a brand should be aggressively monitoring these environments non-stop.
A company can of course undertake legal action that to protect its image from misuse in an app but the best strategy is to never get to the point where you need to start legal proceedings: they can be very expensive, and by the time the process is over, the “problematic” app might have already generated millions of euros of revenues. 
The main goal for brands is to detect problematic and infringing apps before they “steal” their revenues.  Generally speaking, companies always have the right to protect their intellectual property online, whether it is trademarks, copyrighted images and logos, or the sale of counterfeit goods.  Most platforms and operators will comply with the brands that signal to them that abuse is occurring on their platform – but unfortunately, it is often the brand’s job to detect and report the abuse.  Considering how vast the internet (and the app world) is, this part of the process is really what brands find difficult, when they don’t use a specialized service.
Technological solutions offer a very cost effective solution to the issue.  They can run a continuous scans of the main app marketplaces and when a potential issue is detected, it gets analysed and remediated.  Working directly with each marketplace’s teams to remove unlawful apps on behalf of the company, these solutions can prove incredibly successful and cost effective because they control the markets daily and remove the need for costly legal action.
Equally they can protect mobile revenues by eliminating as much as possible the possibility for the consumer to confuse official apps with other unauthorized apps.  The idea is to clean this business channel so that the legitimate app is more visible and the consumer can find it easier when he or she is looking for it.
The technology solutions can focus their attention on the areas of the web, and specifically app markets, where companies are aware of the most negative impact on their brand and follow the growth of m-commerce and download rates from each one to understand which one represents a risk. It therefore polices the marketplaces on behalf of brands. However the good news for brands is that the trend that we are seeing is that the bigger the app market gets, the more compliant they become.
Brands need to be prepared to protect their revenue and reputation in today’s mobile world. By using technological solutions available to discourage brand impersonation and false association in mobile channels, companies can reduce customer confusion, reinforce brand trust and protect m-commerce revenues.


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