Geneva-based digital and search marketing group Agence Virtuelle has launched a marketing intelligence division, which will actively search the internet for sites selling counterfeit luxury brands and launch a concerted legal and online campaign against them.
Swiss watchmaker Audemars Piguet is the first brand owner to sign up. Audemars, like many luxury brands, has seen sales and brand values hit by counterfeiters offering fake goods online.
Agence Virtuelle’s new service identifies potential threats and works out the best strategies for using classic search-marketing techniques such as keyword bidding to effectively suppress them. A spokesman explains that by outbidding counterfeiters for keywords, the agency can ensure that the fakes’ ads are pushed off the all-important first few pages of search results. At the same time, the client’s own website will gain maximum visibility.
Simultaneously, Agence Virtuelle’s team alerts the client’s legal advisors to take necessary action.
Working with Audemars, Agence Virtuelle has established that more than half the websites selling counterfeit watches originate from the US, and not from Asia as is commonly believed. China, for instance, plays host to less than ten per cent of the counterfeit sites.