Do you remember those commercials where the salesman would scream at you from the television to get your attention? This tactic was mostly used by car salesmen, some of whom still use this method. Terry Crew also utilizes it for effect.
Why do they scream at you? Why are commercials louder than the actual television program you’re watching (side note, this is actually illegal now). Because it get’s your attention. We have short attention spans, and advertisers know this. They raise the volume to get your attention so you’ll focus on their pitch.
With the advent of the internet, a large portion of what was previously aural (audio) communication is now text-based (visual). So advertisers have had to adjust.
Enter “clickbait”. Clickbait is defined as “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 to attract click-throughs and to encourage forwarding of the material over online social networks.” (Wikipedia). Basically, they show you an ad that screams for your attention by inciting your curiousity. They hope people will have thoughts like these:
“This video made your jaw drop? I wonder why.”
“The action of this person brought you to tears? Well then it must be worth my time.”
And so you click. And discover that the video that made someone’s jaw drop was just like every other video on the internet, most of them pointless and banal. Funny? Maybe. Interesting? Possibly. Jaw-droppingly shocking? Hardly.
I encountered some click bait today on Facebook that prompted this article. Here is a screenshot of the videos:
I loathe clickbait. Unfortunately the news stations are starting to use it as well. And that’s unfortunate. But why are they using it? Because it works. Because people keep clicking. Why do telemarketers still exist? Because people buy stuff from them. If nobody ever bought things from telemarketers, they would quit. If nobody ever clicked on clickbait, they would stop sensationalizing the mundane.
It’s up to you.