Email Security Blog

BIMI Moves Forward as Google Commits to Pilot Program

Armen Najarian July 24, 2019 Brand Protection

BIMI is going big time like never before—and brands won’t want to get left behind. In a major announcement this week, Internet search giant Google revealed it has joined the AuthIndicators Working Group and committed to a pilot program for BIMI. For those unfamiliar with the term, Brand Indicators for Message Identification (BIMI) is a standardized way for inboxes to display brand logos beside authenticated email securely and at scale.

I’m not talking about emoticons within email subject lines here. With BIMI, your brand logo will appear in a special display space controlled by the email provider—typically adjacent to the email subject line within the recipient’s inbox, as well as in the upper left corner of the email message itself. That means your marketing and customer outreach campaigns will seriously stand out in the future, given Google’s support of BIMI.

Not only does this dramatically increase brand impressions and visual impact, but the standard also adds an extra layer of governance for our approved logos. Specifically, all displayed logos must be verified by a third party, which combined with the DMARC standard, helps to reduce brand spoofing.

Brand Imposters Invading the Inbox

It’s no secret that email is 40X more effective at acquiring new customers than any other digital channels. According to recent industry studies by Hubspot, up to seventy-two percent of consumers, and 86% of B2B audiences, say they prefer email for communication with the brands with which they do business. And these days, companies generate at least $38 for every $1 spent in email, which is by far the highest ROI of any digital medium.

But rival brands aren’t the only ones stuffing inboxes in hopes of peeling away your customers. More than 6.4 billion new phishing emails are sent to consumers and businesses every day, with the vast majority purporting to come from brands recipients know and trust. In fact, 90% of brands report having their domain names spoofed in attacks in 2018. And unfortunately, even when you aren’t aware of scams bearing your brand identity, your brand can pay a steep price.

Negative publicity can make your legitimate email messages radioactive to recipients—pulverizing your email marketing programs and the revenues they generate. BIMI is designed to help neutralize this threat, while building a whole new level of brand trust.

BIMI Packs Big Benefits

First introduced in March 2018, BIMI was developed by the AuthIndicatator’s Working Group, a vendor-neutral committee of companies including Agari, that is working to create a richer, more trustworthy inbox experience for all email users worldwide, while increasing the use of authentication to reduce email fraud.

Put simply, BIMI is a standard that enables you to showcase your brand identity in outbound emails, so long as both the email and the logo are properly authenticated through the Domain-based Message Reporting and Conformance (DMARC) protocol, which stops billions of email-based brand impersonation attacks each year.

The domain owner must first have the specified DMARC policy set to quarantine or reject. As an added precaution, the logo must also be validated by a third party who will issue a Verified Mark Certificate, or VMC Certificate, to prove the authenticity of the logo for use by the sending domain. In addition to boosting brand presence and protecting against fraud, BIMI may also amplify email performance.

As it stands now, DMARC helps boost email deliverability by ensuring email messages aren’t blocked by receiving systems on suspicions of fraud. And a study from Forrester suggests this is translating to as much as a 10% increase in open rates and a 4% increase in conversions. By providing a visual cue to confirm a message’s authenticity, a BIMI-delivered logo could fuel further performance gains.

Adoption Rates Are Skyrocketing

Google’s pilot of BIMI is expected to launch in 2020, and it comes at a fortuitous time. Groupon, Air Canada, Aetna, eBay, and Capital One are just a few of the major consumer brands that have adopted BIMI.

Agari and other email security providers offer BIMI services to domain owners who have authenticated their domains with DMARC set at an appropriate enforcement policy and want to take advantage of BIMI’s ability to display their brand identity in an exciting new way within email environments.

As for email providers, Yahoo! Mail and others began testing BIMI last year, helping to spur the growth in adoption seen so far. Given Google’s reach and the user experience it delivers to more than a billion users worldwide, it’s likely BIMI is now entering its next stage of growth.

Brands should prepare to take action now. With its ability to increase brand exposure and visibility even while protecting against brand impersonations, BIMI may soon be considered a “must-have” for every CMO and email marketing team.

Ready to start on the path to implementing BIMI? Create your BIMI record with our free Generate a BIMI Record tool. 

 

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