Scrolling through the online content will give you a pretty good idea of the extent of the click bait in the online content space. A lot of people claim they hate clickbait because it’s the kind of thing that could potentially get them to watch content that isn’t that valuable to them, but an influencer by the name of Derek Muller who runs the blockbuster youtube channel Veritasium has posted a video that shows the paradoxical nature of this statement.
Muller makes science and math videos that manage to convey fairly complex ideas in a way that is easily digestible by people not otherwise familiar with those concepts. He begins the video by drawing attention to his older videos, many of which had very obvious titles and thumbnails that did not appeal to the viewer. In many cases, other people would reload the video with a different thumbnail and more clickable title and get a lot more views than it does.
Muller goes on to describe what clickbait actually is. In many ways, virtually any type of headline is going to involve some form of click-bait because the content creator would want to take advantage of what is known as the curiosity gap. It’s a phenomenon that happens when you spot something and are curious enough to go and check those things out, and an online content creator relies on the curiosity gap because if they give too much information in the title and thumbnail, it might not get the click-through rate they need.
The video further explains how YouTube’s live analytics changed the game in so many ways. Content creators could now see a live representation of how many views their content was getting, and it became much more common for them to start editing the thumbnail and title to see if that would improve the view count. In most cases, this process actually worked, and part of Muller’s video involved an interview with Mr. Beast, arguably the most successful YouTuber, well known for using clickbait to his advantage.
Another thing the video is about is how not all clickbait is created equal. Some clickbait lures viewers into a video that will be genuinely informative and legitimate, but if the clickbait leads to a video that is not at all accurate or informative, it will effectively turn into a form of manipulation. Therefore, clickbait isn’t as bad as a lot of people think it is, and in many ways, it’s just one facet of the online content creation space that comes with territory.
With all that said and now out of the way, it’s important to note that clickbait is evolving and Muller describes a few examples of it in his video (featured below). One example has to do with what many call “anti-clickbait”. This is a form of click bait where the question of exploiting the curiosity gap in the title actually gets an answer in the thumbnail, usually in the form of a yes or no. . However, the curiosity gap still exists for the reason that the viewer does not know the reasoning behind that yes or no answer, and sometimes the answer itself can go against what they expected, which which causes it to be more likely to click.
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