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BizReport : Domain Names : January 08, 2010

AdGooroo tool identifies brand hijacking

Has brand hijacking hurt your brand? It is entirely possible because of the number of fraudulent marketers, spammers and companies on the Web. The problem is many legitimate brands and marketers have no way of identifying these fraudsters. Enter AdGooroo's Hijacking Report, a tool which marketers can use to identify and stop brand hijacking.

by Kristina Knight

The tool is part of the Trademark Insight suite and helps search marketers determine whether their domain name is being used improperly and to take action if it is being used. The report shows marketers when domain names are being used in both search and advertising copy as well as display URLs.

Most marketers have been so concerned with domain squatting and phishing that identifying fraudsters who are using domain or other terms in advertising has fallen to the wayside. But these instances of trademark abuse can be just as incendiary and damaging to legitimate brands.

A 2009 MarkMonitor report found more than 19,000 'cybersquatted' domains, many in the pharma advertising category. Cybersquatting happens when a domain is registered based on a trademarked name and can happen more than 20,000 times each week. These so-called black hats are squatting or using legitimate domains and brands to gain credibility with consumers.

Marketers can protect themselves by regularly checking for alternate domains based on their brand. For instance, "WeightLossPillY" should look for domains such as "CheapWeightLossPillY" and the like.

The AdGooroo tool is another help. The platform identifies these black hats by filtering ads based on domain names. When fraudsters are identified the legitimate brand can take action against the brand hijacker.

When a brand is hijacked everyone suffers, except the hijacker who may earn commissions on the clicks and purchases of consumers. Consumers are hurt because these fraudsters may offer 'alternative' products which could be harmful. Brands are hurt because their legitimate brand is then associated with the fraudsters.

Tags: AdGooroo, brand hijacking, brand safety, cybersquatting, domain names, MarkMonitor

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