Understanding ‘Hot Triggers’ from a Scammers Perspective

BJ Fogg, Director of Persuasive Technology Lab at Stanford University, recently gave a keynote session at last week’s Search Engine Strategies (SES) conference in San Francisco called "Hot Triggers: The Power to Change Behavior". Recognized for his studies between the relationship of persuasion and technology, Fogg focused the discussion around his mantra,”Putting hot triggers in the path of motivated people”. Defining a hot trigger as something one can take immediate action on, this concept easily translates to the world of online marketing tactics such as “Click this link, hit this button, or enter your information here.” The trigger is characterized as hot because you can take this action now, versus cold triggers, which are calls to actions you can’t act upon immediately.




Fogg’s discussion struck accord with me as I thought about various hot triggers that are put in front of me each day. Case in point: When Facebook sends me emails stating I’ve been tagged in a photo, I usually immediately logon to check it out, and I end up spending more time than planned on the social networking site. In other words, I’ve been triggered. So, how does this all relate to brand protection? The concept of tying social sciences to marketing is nothing new as brand owners spend a lot of time, money, and resources to drive customers to their brands. But what about the bad guys? Don’t scammers do the same thing?




Let’s take the example of counterfeiters. These scammers know that low prices motivate people and use heavily discounted prices as their “hot trigger” to manipulate user behavior. (Yes, humans are fairly predictable) With that in mind, they propagate this to all forms of their scamming strategies. For example, just as legitimate marketers do, online scammers invest in paid search but do so by deceitfully leveraging brands in a paid search text ad or keyword buy. Think, how many times have you clicked on an online ad that touted authentic luxury bags at unbelievably low prices but instead of a great deal, you were presented with a counterfeit. Counterfeiters also use the psychology of persuasion to produce a desired outcome, which is to intercept traffic that is searching for a legitimate brand and lead consumers to counterfeit goods.




Technology is always changing, but human psychology remains the same. Just like brand owners and marketing professionals, scammers also study psychology in tandem with technology to recognize how to achieve results in the most effective way. Understanding hot triggers from a scammer’s perspective is important as it allows us to see what types of deceptive online marketing techniques are being used, so we can quickly identify online brand abuse. They often use "hot triggers" to divert customers away from legitimate websites, stealing your traffic and potential revenue. So, how about it? Do you have your finger on the hot trigger when it comes to tracking down scammers who abuse your brands?


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Alison Simpson
With more than 13 years’ experience in the domain industry, Alison has managed all aspects of Corporate Domain Managem... More