Weaponized clickbait and why you click


Yesterday I noted how things like “pollen vortex” are driving news outlets because they get people to click.  Coincidentally, I then tripped across this article at The Verge about how many news outlets are increasingly relying on modules with titles like “You May Also Like” to get people to keep reading (either on their own site, or through others, where they’ll get money for the click).

Part of the challenge for many publishers is people increasingly don’t find articles by visiting the homepage of a news site and reading, but using social media to click through to articles.  As such, promoting other content becomes increasingly important, and services like Outbrain aim to use algorithms and user patterns to recommend the most popular stories.

These recommendation services tend to promote content with catchier headlines and more risque or suggestive photos because, well, it works, and so the thinking goes that these services, like banner ads before them, may become less effective over time as users tune them out.

I’m not sure I agree; newspapers have for ages played with all sorts of promotional boxes that get people to read; I suspect they’ll just evolve and take new forms, but the companies that do the best job of targeting content will likely be rewarded with better revenue, and the ones that resist the crud will probably hold up better in the long run.

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