Last week I was joined by Brett Millar, Director of Global Brand Protection for Fitbit, for a webinar on “Protecting Brands from Digital Risks and the Dark Web”. It was great to hear how Brett works with different business functions to address different risks to the Fitbit brand. Most of all, I loved hearing about the different ways in which Brand Managers can demonstrate a return on investment (ROI).


Brand Protection

For organizations looking to safeguard their brands online, there are lots of online sources where this occurs. Within the webinar I spoke about the threats to brands that exist on the dark web -specifically on account takeover and counterfeit goods. Dark web marketplaces, such as Dream Market shown below, have whole sections dedicated the sale of counterfeit goods. Of course, there is a lot more to brand protection than dark web activity. Organizations need to be monitoring a wide range of sources to adequately protect their brands online. (Check out a blog from our CMO, Dan Lowden, on some specific instances of brand exposure that we’ve seen involving spoof domains, fake mobile applications, and fake social media profiles.)


Figure 1: A dedicated counterfeit category on the Dream Market, with over 2,800 goods for sale


Affecting the Bottom Line

ROI (Return on Investment) is common term in security, but effectively demonstrating it is difficult. One reason for this is that ROI is a calculation usually expressed numerically or as a percentage. The impact of your security investment, however, does not always lend itself to quantifiable metrics. It is always trickier trying to show how events that have not happened, like cyber attacks that have been averted, impact a company’s net earnings or bottom line.

The concept of ROI is just as critical for brand protection; Brand Managers need to be able to show they are impacting the bottom line. The good news is that the result of your brand protection strategy is measurable, and there are three main ways to do just that.

  1. Direct revenue return. This is the most clear-cut way of demonstrating ROI. Investigations launched by an organization’s fraud team in counterfeit sites can lead to proceeds flowing back into the company. This typically occurs through settlements, judgement amounts, and restitution amounts. This approach is pretty easy to quantify.
  2. Loss prevention. This is a different side of the same coin as direct revenue return. Stopping an activity that was costing the company $X million per year prevents this loss from reoccurring.
  3. Indirect revenue. If an increase in revenue for a particular product coincides with an increased effort to remove counterfeits of that product on gray and black markets, it can be inferred that there may have been some sort of causation. This is harder to quantify but it can, nonetheless, be valuable.

These metrics can be supplemented with other metrics, such as tracking the number of:

  • Cease and Desist letters sent
  • Audits performed
  • Sites taken down
  • Custom site seizures

With so many areas of security to focus on, demonstrating a return on investment is a constant challenge. However, the intersection of brand management and security offers a real opportunity to demonstrate the economic value of protecting your brand online.

Watch the webinar on “Protecting Brands from Digital Risks and the Dark Web” to find out more about other types of brand exposure and ways organizations can manage this risk.