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Clickbait secrets revealed

02 March 2015, 08:07 Duncan Alfreds

Cape Town - Clickbait is the lowest form of marketing designed to trick internet users into clicking on pages in an effort to sell advertising, says a marketing expert.

You know the feeling. You're surfing the web and you see a headline: "You won't believe this!" and you are immediately disappointed once you've clicked.

"Invasive mobile strategies are dangerous in my opinion as it makes for a poor user experience and even though this may increase the amount of unique users for the short term, it does not retain users. Instead it creates a conscientious black list of the site or product," Andre Steenkamp told Fin24.

Steenkamp has more than two decades of marketing experience and runs the 25AM digital agency in Cape Town.

He was blunt about his view of clickbait, calling these strategies "trickery".


"It is trickery; it's a lot of smoke and mirrors. You'll notice that very few well-known brands or products use clickbait," said Steenkamp.

But that doesn't stop unscrupulous online marketers from using well-known brands to "bait" online users into clicking on links with the eventual aim of getting people to buy mostly ineffective products or services.

They also regularly use the likeness of well-known individuals such as Warren Buffet to punt dodgy investment schemes or financial advice programmes.

In one scam that has its origins with a baited link, a screaming headline promises that optometrists have been hiding knowledge that corrective spectacles are unnecessary and once you click, you are directed to a mammoth 30 minute video presentation, complete with testimonials, to buy the secret knowledge.

Ditto for programmes to win female or male affection, special "miracle" diets and other thinly disguised scams.

Watch this video where Andre Steenkamp explains the effect of clickbait on internet users:

In a Ted Talk, Sally Kohn, CEO of the Movement Vision Lab, a think tank said that part of the solution to the problem of clickbait lies with internet users.

"We all say we hate this crap, but the question is whether you're willing to make a sacrifice to change it. I don't mean giving up the internet, but changing the way you click because clicking is a public act."

Because online content is far easier to measure than traditional ads in newspapers or even analogue television, online marketers can use the technology to check which links work the best with a wide audience.

Specific information

"There're all these hidden algorithms that decide what you see more of, and what we all see more of, based on what you click on," Kohn said.

There has also been a shift toward clickbait on mobile phones as consumers shift consumption patterns and this has seen marketers exploit mobile devices with clickbait.

Common scams include the usual work from home scams, but now these are tailored, based on the mobile phone's geo-location.

It s not uncommon for baited schemes to include specific information on a mobile phone that fools the user into believing the link is genuine.

"Mobile Marketing is meant to be responsible marketing. The fact that it is executed on a mobile phone increases the chances of it not being relevant since the mobile device is one of the most personal media channels and one in which consumers get more irritated when marketers deliver poor or irrelevant campaigns," Steenkamp said.

Watch how Andre Steenkamp labels clickbait as trickery to sell ads:

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- Fin24


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27 October 2016, 10:03

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