For the uninitiated out there who have only just emerged from a cryogenic-pod; if you are ever going to use the internet, you will come across Clickbait. This annoying little trend has been the source of much disappointment and grief over the past few years, and it still seems prevalent today.
What is Clickbait?
Clickbait (a.k.a. Clickbaiting) is the practice of using exaggerated and sensational content to entice users to Click and view/watch/read your content. Usually taking the form of an all-too-juicy headline or title for articles, or seemingly unreal thumbnails for video or music content. Sufficed to say that 99% of the Baiting part of Clickbait takes place in the summary or preview of the content. All this with the express purpose of getting you, the user, to the point of not being able to resist clicking. It’s at this point you likely find yourself asking, why? Why all the emphasis on Clicking?
As with many of life’s unfortunate realities, the reason is money. Many of these publications run adverts on their sites in order to generate revenue, with numerous, large companies offering services that pay to use the publisher’s real-estate for this purpose. Often, the amount of traffic on a site can have a direct impact on how much money the site generates through advertising. Can you guess which was the main way in which the activity of users was measured? Clicks. Yes, the innocent action of clicking became the main metric used to convey advertising effectiveness, leading many an online publication to adopt the practice of Clickbait.
What happened to it?
Clickbait is still here to this day. Search the term “Story Time” on Youtube and you will quickly come to terms with this sordid reality. Luckily, though, many of the online giants like Facebook took it upon themselves to attempt to lessen the amount of Clickbait content served to their users. The reason? Disengagement. Many of the users that have been inundated with piles of “7 things you didn’t know about armadillos” *screaming emoji* all eventually become uninterested in the content being produced by the authors, as well as with the particular platform as a whole. This is a big deal for something like Facebook that continues to try its absolute hardest to remain a magnet for users’ eyes. If FB had to lose that, there would be no FB. So what they did was institute a change to their algorithm that lessened the amount of Clickbait-y content served to their users.
Shocking Ways to Avoid ClickBait!!
Its simple, don’t click on titles that look too sensational. You will undoubtedly make the odd mistake and click on something that turns out to be empty, and that’s okay. Just know that your mouse has a lot of power when it comes to the internet. There is a growing emphasis on using other metrics such as Bounce Rate to measure User engagement due its added dimensions. Not just that, but free tracking services like Google Analytics make it easy to draw large sums of rich information about a website’s user experience by using ‘time spent on site’, for example.
In the beginning it was something that drove profits skywards and gave rise to whole new publications such as BuzzFeed. But luckily now that the Big Brother companies have caught on, it is likely to continue decreasing as time goes on. Simply put, Clickbait is a lazy writing style used to cover up even lazier content creation – and all at the user’s expense. The responsibility unfortunately falls on all of our shoulders to avoid headlines that are obviously exaggerated and instead, reward those publications that do right by their audiences and publish respectable work. That way, we can all contribute to creating a benefit by making profitable a culture of healthy content creation.
PS. Sorry for Heading 4, it was either that or the headline of the article itself, I feel like a wise choice was made.