By Simon Whitehouse, Senior Director, EMEA, MarkMonitor
Today, there are almost two billion smartphone users internationally and consumers now spend more than half their time online using apps on their smartphones and tablets. Mobile app downloads reached 102 billion in 2013, up from 64 billion last year, with a rise to 270 billion predicted for 2017. Just under a quarter of business comes from the mobile channel, and 66 percent of merchants actively support mobile apps, an increase of 36 percent year on year.
This rising trend of smartphone and mobile app use represents a major increase in the risk of cybercriminals taking advantage of unsuspecting consumers and unprepared brands. So it is critical that mobile apps are made part of any comprehensive brand protection strategy. By 2018, sales in e-commerce are predicted to increase by more than US$420 billion, and even more brands than ever will be identifying mobile apps as a key channel to reaching their audiences. So it is more important than ever that brands look to protect their revenue against criminals looking to maliciously use their name and logo.
With that in mind, here are some best-practice tips that all brand-owners should take into account when publishing mobile apps, to help maintain their control of intellectual property and safeguard their reputations in the mobile space.
Monitor, detect and enforce – globally
Even if you have the most popular OS app stores covered, you may still be leaving the doors wide open for infringers. To fully protect your brand, you need to monitor globally; particularly in less secure, third-party app stores in emerging and dynamic markets like India and China.
Connect the dots for targeted enforcement
Target wider networks of criminals and prioritise the most egregious offenders damaging your brand. Make connections based on data mined from a variety of app stores to identify abuse across app stores and developers.
Gain visibility into the mobile space
You have to understand your brand’s total mobile presence to maintain control over your intellectual property and ensure a positive brand experience for consumers. How and where are your trademarks and copyrighted images being used in mobile apps? Remember, while you need to identify unauthorised or ‘copycat’ apps, you may also need to find and remove your own outdated apps.
Go beyond mobile app stores
In today’s digital world, brand owners must monitor multiple Internet channels to identify unauthorised mobile apps. While mobile apps are primarily distributed via app stores, they’re also promoted and distributed through social media and independent websites. To be effective, mobile app monitoring needs to be part of a larger brand protection strategy that covers multiple Internet channels.
Monitor third-party app developers for compliance
If working with app developers is part of your marketing strategy, keeping them compliant with your app and brand standards is critical to your brand reputation and customer satisfaction. Keep tabs on your developers, notify partners of misuse in a timely manner and bring them into compliance.
Avoid your brand being misused and abused on mobile apps by making sure that you fully understand your mobile app store’s policy and procedures. Monitor your apps regularly for partner compliance. Resolve any issues directly with app developers when appropriate. Finally, send regular follow up notices to app store platforms to ensure that all issues are resolved.