Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Craigslist Fights Back Against Black Hat Affiliate Marketers By Unveiling a New Warning Page

If you visit the Craigslist jobs section on a regular basis, then you are probably well aware of all the fake job postings created primarily by affiliate marketers. If you are living on another planet and have never witnessed one of these bogus Craigslist employment opportunities in action, let me explain how it works.

A black hat affiliate marketer will sign up with a quality CPA network like Clickbooth and search for cost-per-action programs that pay per lead. Normally the program will pay the affiliate between $.50 and $100 per lead referred, depending upon how valuable the lead is to them. Typically black hat affiliates are drawn to email and zip code submission programs because they are easy to campaign and market. Black hat affiliate marketers love these kind of CPA programs because they can be rather easily manipulated creatively on large social networks like Facebook, Craigslist, and MySpace. Quite often, these below-the-belt scam artists utilize emotional response marketing in conjunction with a sneaky redirect scheme. It is this redirection tactic where they strike their victims below the belt because often times they send the candidate through hoops, inevitably leading them nowhere. You see, what they are offering simply doesn't exist 99% of the time! Their solitary objective is for the "lead" to fill out a form, submit an email address or zip code, or some other required action on the part of the victim of this charade.

Craigslist has now taken some drastic (and very wise) measures to crack down on the manipulation and deceit being inflicted on many of it's innocent victims, at the hands of the black hat affiliate community. The visitors to Craigslist Jobs section now are confronted with a very detailed, bold typed warning page, which outlines the various objectives the scam artists are looking to achieve through their phony employment postings.

Check out the screen-shot below of the new Craigslist Warning page, which users now automatically encounter prior to reaching the Jobs section of the site.

Since the implementation of the new black hat affiliate alert page, I have noticed many less scamish job postings. For instance, black hats like to use Gmail for their automatic account follow ups (vacation auto-responder), often creating hundreds, even thousands of gmail accounts to mass produce their results. Not surprisingly, since the site's smack-down on these villain affiliates, many less Gmail addresses are being used for job postings. I suspect that the black hats are altering their strategy as we speak, starting with dropping their Gmail email addresses (site users are now very skeptical of any ad that uses a Gmail response email address) from being displayed in their ads.

Will the ultra-strict Craigslist crack down on black hat affiliates work? Time will tell I guess, but I can tell you this much - there is no avoiding the new scam alert page. Potential employment seekers have no choice but to encounter this red flag in every single city, before they can continue to the job listings. Since there are several hyperlinks on the page, one has no choice but to at least browse over the jist of what the moderators have to say in order to find the "Continue To Job Postings" link. In my opinion it was a drastic step in the right direction for Craigslist, and a long time coming.