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Why keyword scanning for counterfeits on amazon doesn't work
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10 min read

Only one in five searches on Amazon include a branded TM term. Let's assume your online brand protection vendor is still searching for fakes on Amazon via branded keyword searches. In that case, 80% of the seller listings you care about will go undetected.

Most consumer searches on Amazon focus on describing the problem and letting the search algorithm pick the best product offer. That means consumers are searching for “workout pants women” or “jackets for men” rather than asking for specific brands. And when they include a brand name, it is often one of the few truly iconic brands that have built long-lasting recognition over decades.

Like all marketplace platforms, Amazon has a counterfeit problem. Bad actors are increasingly deploying ever more sophisticated mechanisms to evade detection. Reality is, when your platform captures almost half of every ecommerce dollar spent in the United States, it's too irresistible for scammers and counterfeiters. These bad actors are a problem for Amazon, businesses, and customers who depend on Amazon.

Amazon prohibits the sale of counterfeit products and does more than most other marketplaces to stem the tide. Given the size of Amazon's marketplace and the nature of online selling - which can easily be anonymous - stopping counterfeit products can be extremely difficult.

If not keywords, how should I find unauthorized products for sale on Amazon?

For Amazon, good proactive online brand protection starts with three central concepts.

Understanding these areas of Amazon’s ecosystem is essential to minimizing content review and, in many cases, not only finding the real bad actors but boosting authorized healthy sales in the process.

  • Product Listings vs. Offers
  • ASINs (and child/parent relationships)
  • BuyBox basics

Product Listings vs. Offers

Unlike other platforms, Amazon’s complex web of selling models means that product listings are like millions of virtual markets open 24/7, each featuring a unique product (ASIN), and with anywhere from 1 to potentially 100’s of seller Offers available at any given time.

Amazon’s unique 1 listing to many sellers approach, means scanning listing content for unauthorized products is like only looking at a digital filename to determine if the software contains a virus.

Beyond baseline identification, if you focus on listing content and images as your primary method to detect unauthorized products for sale, then you're most likely paying for many hours of analyst content review of irrelevant scanning results.

Lesson 1: Focus your efforts on your actual seller offers - not listing content shared across those sellers.

ASINs (and Child/Parent Relationships)

Amazon has over 350mm product listings globally when including all seller models, which makes keyword scanning inefficient. Instead of trying to scan them all with keywords manually, you should identify and track ASIN numbers. By developing a detailed accounting of all ASINs on Amazon that offer your product, you gain visibility into every virtual market that matters. Then, it's simply a matter of auditing and analyzing each seller with an offer that you don’t recognize as yourself, a reseller, or a licensee.

Indeed, this simple yet labor intensive approach is daunting for a brand owner or e-commerce manager with hundreds of brands or thousands of products.

That said, it can be done. Visit if you're curious, and we can show you how our software will identify all the ASINs on Amazon that offer your brand in a few minutes.

Lesson 2: Identify all the ASINs featuring your brand or product, and audit the attached seller offers.

BuyBox Basics

As we know, bad actors on Amazon hide in plain sight. And for a good reason. As an unauthorized seller on Amazon, you need to appear legitimate and successful if you are going to attain any meaningful time in the 'BuyBox'. Sellers in the BuyBox capture 80%+ of the sales flowing through a product listing. So as consumers search and product listings pop up on screens, Amazon’s BuyBox algorithm determines which Seller Offer will win the BuyBox. A counterfeit seller that wins the BuyBox on one of your brand's product listings means certain revenue loss for you.

All the data points Amazon looks at to determine BuyBox winners isn't public information, but we know that a seller's behavior is vital. Negative reviews, returns, price, shipping duration, and many more data points determine if a seller wins the BuyBox or not.

So unauthorized sellers that fail all Amazon checks gain a “zero” visibility relegation on the platform. Focus your efforts on the sellers winning the BuyBox and the ASINs that matter to your brand or product. Each time an unauthorized seller wins the BuyBox, it's a lost sale for you and your partners.

Many brands, law firms, and e-commerce managers manually monitor ASINs and BuyBox winners. So this is certainly an option, especially if the number of ASINs that matter to you is manageable.

However, this would be a very time-consuming effort for most, so visit and set up an account. We incorporate BuyBox data into our seller forensics, so you will not only know who the bad actors are but which of them are selling units of product.

Lesson 3: Bad actors need to win the BuyBox, so monitor it aggressively. You will identify the unauthorized sellers that are moving units.

Amazon Brand Protection Checklist

The above three areas of importance focus on tactical approaches you and your vendor can take to make the most of your brand protection efforts on Amazon. However, they should be done in conjunction with all available tools, especially those provided directly by Amazon or government & law enforcement organizations.

  • Sign up or seek out information on Amazon brand protection programs
  • Amazon Brand Registry
  • Amazon Project Zero
  • Amazon Transparency Program
  • Ensure your trademarks, copyrights, and patents are filed and current
  • Strengthen your reseller and licensee contracts and consolidate your partners
  • Use unique product packaging and investigate track & trace technologies
  • File your products, meet with, and train U.S. Customs on your IP

A Review

Keyword scanning is not the best way to find unauthorized products on Amazon. Yes, consumers type keywords into Amazon search to find products, but those keywords don’t include your brand more often than not. Most likely, you’re paying for analyst resources to review scanning results, and you're paying for that by the hour. By changing that approach, relevancy goes way up, review time and cost go down, and good sellers sell more.

  • Ditch keywords
  • Get focused on Amazon Seller Offers instead of product listings
  • Understand and identify all the ASINs that matter for your brand or product
  • Sellers who win the BuyBox are moving actual products, eliminate them first
  • Sign up for Amazon Brand Registry. Amazon will actively help root out counterfeits for you. Also, Amazon has a feature where you can flag products that you discover to be a counterfeit of your own.
  • Sign up for Amazon Project Zero. This program takes an even more active approach to protect your product. The program uses machine learning to figure out the newest ways and tactics counterfeit sellers are using.
  • Sign-up for the Amazon Transparency Program. This is another excellent measure that Amazon has taken to protect its sellers. Each sale gets a unique QR code applied. This lets you follow the transaction and product as it moves through the warehouse.
  • Remember - you also need to be proactive and work aggressively to secure robust IP rights. Make sure that your business has the necessary legal protections and IP rights for anything your company sells, or allows others to sell, on Amazon.

Protecting your hard-earned Intellectual Property Rights on Amazon doesn’t have to be a resource-draining exercise. Most solutions claim to be all things to everyone, but not IPSecure. We focus exclusively on simplifying brand protection on Amazon. We give you the tools to reduce bad actors while generating ROI by fueling good sales you can track. Find out more today at

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