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Google’s BIMI Announcement Will Supercharge Brand Impressions

Armen Najarian

Gmail displayed on computer monitor

The tech giant’s commitment to a BIMI pilot program is a major step toward greater email credibility and security

When Wish, the world’s sixth-largest e-commerce company, wanted to achieve greater email deliverability and brand recognition globally, it deployed a little-known technology standard called BIMI, short for Brand Indicators for Message Identification. Since spring 2018, Wish has experienced a single-digit percentage increase in deliverability rates on AOL and Yahoo! Mail—as well as greater brand awareness.

BIMI has been trending in the news recently because Google has now jumped on board. Google revealed July 24 that it has joined the AuthIndicators Working Group and committed to a pilot program for BIMI beginning in 2020. BIMI is a term marketing leaders will want to get to know well and quickly because of the substantial boost in free brand impressions that result when using it. It’s a standardized technology that enables email inboxes to display brand logos beside verified and authenticated email—securely and at scale (see image below).

Put simply, BIMI enables marketers to showcase their brand identity in outbound emails, so long as the email and the logo are properly authenticated through the Domain-based Message Reporting and Conformance (DMARC) protocol—which stops billions of email-based phishing attacks each year. BIMI provides a visual cue to confirm a message’s authenticity, which has the strong potential to fuel further performance gains.

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This isn’t about emoticons within email subject lines. Rather, the sender’s logo is placed adjacent to the email subject line within the recipient’s inbox, as well as in the upper-left corner of the email message itself. The result? Marketing and customer outreach campaigns rise above the cacophony of the email channel. And now with Google’s commitment to a pilot, the number of free brand impressions a marketer can score could skyrocket.

“We adopted BIMI very early on because we saw it as one extra way to put the Wish brand in front of consumers in a space where they spend a significant amount of time: email,” says Udeme Ukutt, postmaster at Wish. “Plus, there is ‘verified’ trust behind it. Consumers know the email is legitimate when they see the logo.”

Not only does this dramatically increase brand impressions and visual impact, but the standard also adds an extra layer of governance for approved logos. The Google announcement is significant because the company has the largest percentage of users across most brand markets, and this move by the giant email provider is going to make the internet safer.

In a world where emails are being weaponized by scammers and fraudsters, BIMI amps the power of email authentication. According to Wish’s Ukutt, “It has advanced the trust that consumers have with the Wish brand. People will have more trust in our emails, which means they are more likely to engage and shop with us.”

Groupon, Air Canada, Aetna, eBay and Capital One are just a few of the other major consumer brands that have adopted BIMI. In fact, BIMI adoption grew nearly 400% between the first and second quarter of 2019, from 180 domains leveraging BIMI to 511, according to a forthcoming Agari report on email fraud and identity deception.

As for email providers, Verizon Media and others began testing BIMI last year, helping to spur the adoption growth seen so far. Google’s reach and the user experience it delivers to more than a billion users worldwide are ushering BIMI into the next stage of growth.

Brands should prepare to take action now. With its ability to increase brand exposure and visibility while protecting against brand impersonations, BIMI has entered the realm of a “must-have” for every CMO and email marketing group.

Armen Najarian is the chief marketing officer of Agari, an email security firm.