Clickbait, the Psychological Tool to Help Increase Ad Revenue
“You’ll never guess what (insert person’s favourite movie star’s name) was caught doing today”.
Have you clicked on a similarly titled article only to find out that the celebrity you like just had a fancy lunch? We know you have because we have too. Are you tired of trying to find a recipe only to have to scroll past the author’s entire life story just to get to the ingredient list? It’s engagement bait and it works and it’s all meant to increase the publisher’s ad revenue. Like the famously inaccurate myth about Mark Twain, publishers earn revenue by how many ads you see and how long your screen remains on it.
Internet users are increasingly annoyed by spammy posts that manipulate them into engaging through likes, shares, and comments. Over the years, companies such as Google and Facebook have claimed to take action against this tactic known as “engagement bait.” However, after years with our pulses on the weekly algorithm changes, we’ve seen little movement on it.
Engagement bate works BUT, you shouldn’t fall into the trap of the lazy, unethical promoter as this is a long-term strategy that will surely fail for most.
At Kiers Marketing, Authenticity Matters
In the vast digital landscape, where attention is the currency, marketers and content creators are constantly seeking ways to capture users’ interest and engagement. By leveraging attention-grabbing headlines and sensationalized content, engagement bait manipulates users into taking specific actions, often with the ultimate goal of driving traffic and increasing ad revenue.
The key word here is “manipulate”. A word that we here at Kiers Marketing do not like. Many businesses use psychological tactics such as clickbait to help goad a person into clicking on their site and scrolling through the never-ending series of advertisements in between a single paragraph of text.
In order to help combat this, we’ve written a quick explanation of the content and reasons behind it so that you can stop clicking on them.
The Art of Attention-Seeking Headlines
At the heart of engagement bait lies the art of crafting attention-seeking headlines. These headlines are designed to pique curiosity and lure users into clicking on the content. They often use exaggerated claims, cliffhangers, or promises of shocking revelations to create a sense of urgency and compel users to take the desired action.
Sensationalized Content: The Hook for User Engagement
Once users take the bait and click on the attention-grabbing headline, they are often met with sensationalised content that fails to deliver on its promises. This content may rely on emotional triggers, exaggerated narratives, or controversial statements to generate reactions and encourage users to engage through likes, shares, and comments. Unfortunately, the substance of the content often falls short of expectations.
The Motive Behind Engagement Bait: Driving Traffic and Ad Revenue
The primary motive behind engagement bait is to generate high levels of user engagement, as it directly impacts website traffic and ad revenue. Increased engagement, such as likes, shares, and comments, signals popularity and relevance to algorithms, potentially leading to higher visibility and reach. This, in turn, attracts advertisers and increases the likelihood of monetization through ads, sponsorships, and partnerships.
User Experience and Trust: The Downside of Engagement Bait
While engagement bait may temporarily boost engagement metrics, it can have long-term consequences for user experience and trust. When users realize they have been misled or deceived by clickbait tactics, it erodes their trust in the content creator, platform, and even the entire digital ecosystem. This loss of trust can negatively impact the relationship between brands, publishers, and their audiences.
Ethical Content Strategies: Building Authentic Connections
To foster genuine engagement and build lasting relationships with users, content creators and marketers should create ethical content strategies. By delivering valuable and trustworthy content that aligns with users’ interests and needs, brands can cultivate authentic connections. This approach involves understanding the audience, providing relevant information, and promoting meaningful interactions that go beyond shallow clickbait tactics.
Engagement bait may seem like a tempting shortcut to boost engagement and drive traffic, but its manipulative nature and negative consequences cannot be overlooked. As digital marketing and social media continue to evolve, it is crucial for content creators, brands, and platforms to prioritize transparency, authenticity, and user-centred experiences.
What it all comes down to is the algorithm choosing to show you these because you keep clicking on them. We should all pay more heed to The Simpsons’ Treehouse of Horror episode with the monster billboards; “Just don’t look”.