So, you’ve got yourself a strong brand and things seem to be going well. Sadly, this might not be the case. While your teams are busy developing groundbreaking marketing campaigns, exclusive player promotions and delivering award-winning customer support, there might be something else in the works.
This something else is called “cloaking". It’s the most damaging way of what we call “brand hijacking". If you’re running a TV Ad or another branding targeted campaign in a specific country, the number of brand searches increases naturally and you don’t want cloakers to be above your site in search results.
Technically it’s pretty easy to implement considering the rise of Adwords platform. And it’s especially cheap to run in countries where igaming and money making schemes are a “no-no" for advertisers.
Side note: there are animated gif images showcasing how cloaking works, please allow them to load to see what happens.
Here’s a quick road map of how it usually plays out:
- “Cloaker" sets up a innocent looking site, usually a shop or a directory that can list anything – from golf courses to designer clothes.The peculiar thing is that a golf course listing or whatever can have your brand name in it
- Cloaker goes to his Adwords account and submits the site for approval, targeting your branded keywords
- The site gets approved and the Ads start running
Here’s when the interesting part begins
4. Depending on whichever script the “cloaker" has, a geo-targeted redirect is turned on
5. If the target country is e.g. Sweden and I come from Sweden, here’s what happens when I click the ads (I’m using proxy in this case):
Now let’s see what will happen if I visit the same urls from e.g. Malta:
This is pretty much it. If the GIF images are still loading, please, let them load to see the scope of disaster. Another sad thing about it is that your brand usually won’t even be listed among their offers as they don’t want you to find out who they are and shut down their affiliate account.
We noticed that even some major super affiliate networks are involved in this type of “monetization alternatives".
The Anti-cloaking service that we’re offering is targeted at sites like these. We can take them down, so your own site is at top one in the country where you’re running your TV Ads or branding campaigns.
If you’re interested to be included in our weekly scans and want to be notified every time your brand name is being hijacked in search, we’ll gladly take you onboard and make sure that the search around your brand(s) stays clean.