Did this catchy, interesting title, and awesome thumbnail convince you to click on this blog. I hope so, and that’s the goal of this week’s blog. To take a deep dive and really understand what clickbait really is. Most of us have fallen victim to clickbait in the forms of a Buzzfeed article or a youtube video, but their are consequences for these actions. Luckily, I am here to help figure these out and explore the world of clickbait a little further.
“Clickbait is a pejorative term describing web content that is aimed at generating online advertising revenue, especially at the expense of quality or accuracy, relying on sensationalist headlines or eye-catching thumbnail pictures to attract click-throughs and to encourage forwarding of the material over online social networks. Clickbait headlines typically aim to exploit the “curiosity gap”, providing just enough information to make the reader curious, but not enough to satisfy their curiosity without clicking through to the linked content.” – Wikipedia
Dumbing that fancy Wikipedia definition down, clickbait is the art of over-promising or misrepresenting something through a headline, image, or video in order to have viewers click on said link to drive the amount of views something will generate.
Why Do People Use Clickbait
Two words: page views. Page views is what rules the internet, the sites that generate the most page views are the ones that are going to be the kings of the web. Page views is indicative of the amount of unique users that visit a website on a daily basis, and this translates to $$$$ for these sites. The more unique users or page views a site gets the more they can bill advertisers that use the site to sell their products. Most publishers are guilty of using clickbait to promote stories because when it comes down to it, you still will click on the article. Readers time and time again, will take the bait and the publisher is rewarded with a page view.
Why is it Bad
Clickbait being bad is a two way street, not only is it bad for the consumer but it is also bad for the content creator that uses the tactic. It’s bad for the user because we hate being over promised or misinformed about an article that we may read. Also, these clickbait stories tend to spam or social media feeds with stories that none of us care about. Content producers would argue that we still click on them, therefore they should still produce them, but that is where they are wrong.
Clickbait is one of the easiest ways for a publisher to lose their audience’s trust over time. A reader may be fooled one time by clickbait, and then again, but by that third time they may be wary of the sites content. A smart reader will become hesitant over time, and eventually suspicious of the material that the site keeps putting out. This reader will stop sharing the content with his or her friends on social media, thus driving down the number of page views one site might see. And, with the downfall of the page views leads to the downfall of the ad money that one might see.
Publishers can’t use clickbait as means to an end. For sure it’s a strategy one can use, but overusing this strategy has significant ramifications for one creator. In some cases clickbait will not work, as their only strategy to use in order to drive their page views. Creating high quantity and high quality content is usually the key here. Publishers should treat their audiences as smart, understanding viewers, that no better then to fall for a catchy title. In today’s modern media landscape, keeping the trust of your audience is one of the hardest things to gain, yet easiest things to lose.
If you’re a reader, remember that your favorite sites should treat you like you’re in a long-term relationship. They should invest in you, with accurate and engaging headlines that lead to quality journalism, good use of media. Rather then trying to trick you into one page view (aka their one night stand).
Trying to Improve Against Clickbait
However there have been some instances of companies now trying to take a stand against the clickbait phenomena. Satirical newspaper The Onion launched a new website, ClickHole, that parodied clickbait websites such as Upworthy and BuzzFeed, to show users the other side of clickbait. In August 2014, Facebook announced that it was taking technical measures to reduce the impact of clickbait on its social network, using, among other cues, the time spent by the user on visiting the linked page as a way of distinguishing clickbait from other types of content. Ad blockers and a general fall in advertising clicks have also affected the clickbait model, as websites move towards sponsored advertising and native advertising where the content of the article is again more important than the click-rate. It’s great to see companies trying to combat the low brow nature of clickbait, forcing them into creating better content for users.
Who Uses Clickbait
In more recent news politicians have been shown to be using clickbait tactics for political gain. This has led to the rise of post truth politics, and undermined a lot of journalistic integrity. Websites and candidates alike are to blame.
Also theres a whose, who of website that use this tactic including BuzzFeed and Upworthy.
Another week, another great blog. Check back in two weeks for another blog filled with grammatical errors, but full of great, high quality content.