This month, MarkMonitor celebrates 20 years of protecting brands online.
Founded on 17 June in Boise, Idaho – with just a handful of employees – we have grown as a global leader in enterprise brand protection, employing more than 500 people. Our suite of online protection services takes root in a greater movement by parent firm Clarivate Analytics, which delivers products and services that support every phase of the innovation lifecycle.
With an initial goal of protecting corporate brand names and tracking down infringements on the internet, our services expanded into the domain management sector by the year 2000. With more than 340 million domain registrations now in existence, online brand protection challenges have evolved over the years to help clients stay ahead of online threats.
A brief history: Online protection
Go back 20 years, and there wasn’t much activity in terms of cybercrime and brand abuse. This is not surprising, considering that very little was being bought on the internet compared to today.
Businesses were focused on protecting corporate brands, and MarkMonitor supported them by focusing on domain management and combatting early, somewhat rudimentary, phishing sites that primarily targeted large banks.
Soon following, MarkMonitor became an ICANN accredited registrar to support customers in further protecting their trademarks by registering associated domain names. This grew to incorporate education services by 2003, allowing clients to keep abreast of industry changes.
Onboarding marketplaces in the protection sphere
As online marketplaces, took off in the mid-1990s, counterfeiting and fraud became an issue for both brands and consumers alike.
Media companies in particular became a target for brand abuse, in the form of DVD, music and book counterfeit products, while fraud protection became increasingly important for financial institutions. In addition, Ad fraud started to become an issue, leading to the increasing importance of fraud protection for financial, insurance institutions and SaaS businesses. Consumer awareness of brand abuse gradually increased, and companies switched on to these threats, recognising the need to change from a defensive strategy to a managed proactive service.
AntiFraud solutions take root
In response to these needs, MarkMonitor opened its AntiFraud security operation center in 2004 alongside the launch of a fraud protection product to assist corporate clients in combating email phishing. Additionally, in recognition of the growing need for focused brand management, MarkMonitor separated brand protection from domain management as a unique service.
As global auction sites began to grow, consumers needed more protection than ever. Auction monitoring was a huge success in taking down fraudulent and infringing sites and led to the growth of more products specifically aimed at protecting the consumer online.
Breakthroughs in technology certainly pushed this along. As an example, APIs can be used to keep brand owners up-to-date with real-time reporting on counterfeiting and infringement, enabling them to better protect customers online.
Understanding new threats
Today the threats to brands are ever-increasing, and include piracy, counterfeiting, wider brand abuse and even cyber threats. As a result, protection strategies have also evolved; approaches have changed to address and mitigate the risk, while keeping consumers, reputations and revenue safe.
It’s an ongoing endeavour, and it's proving much harder for consumers to distinguish the genuine from the fake, as fraudsters become increasingly marketing savvy. Today, consumers Consumers need to trust brands, while brands themselves need to ensure they’re addressing the wide range of threats to their business. MarkMonitor has transformed its offering to adapt to the growing needs of the market, from domain security and management in the era of gTLDs, to delivering a consumer-focused approach to combatting counterfeiting.
Illegal live streaming of video content has also become one of the fastest growing forms of digital piracy. Consumers like to watch high profile events live and are vulnerable to being targeted by pirated streams. MarkMonitor protects both the customer and the rights holder by shutting down these illegal streams in real time.
Anticipating future needs
It's difficult to predict what the next 20 years will be like, but if the past is anything to go by, online protection challenges will continue to grow in complexity.
Brands will need to continue to protect themselves and their customers, while consumers will need to remain vigilant and aware of potential threats online. This will be especially important as threats diversify and the impact of new technologies and trends such as virtual reality, artificial intelligence, cryptocurrencies, blockchain and IoT become more prevalent.
MarkMonitor remains committed to helping brands stay ahead of these threats. It will continue to evolve its services and make use of the latest technology developments to strengthen online brand protection both now and in the future.
Interested in learning more about today’s online challenges? Get the latest pulse on domain and brand protection in our report, The Online Brand Protection Lifecycle.