Analysis of Clickbaits as a Web Strategy

Anybody who has spent some time surfing the Internet would have come across headlines such as these:

This guy went to hug an elephant. What happens next will blow your mind…
These facts about childbirth will change the way you look at life FOREVER
What this little kid can do with a bongo drum will make you sob uncontrollably until you burst…

You’ve seen it. You’ve clicked on it. And you probably have shared it in social media. And that’s ok, because that’s what clickbaits are for.

Clickbait is 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 or eye-catching thumbnail pictures to attract click-throughs and to encourage forwarding of the material over online social networks.

Clickbaits has revolutionized the way content is shared around the web. It’s rumored that social media platforms like Facebook has tried to ban it. But why do people still have such a love/hate relationship with these entertaining articles? And what can marketeers learn from clickbait marketing?

Sites like Buzzfeed have turned clickbaiting into an art form. According to figures by Quantcast, Buzzfeed alone regularly attracts more than 10m unique users in a single day. And with this trend, it looks like the clickbaiting is here to stay as a simple teaser or as an effective marketing tool.

So what makes a clickbait article headline effective? To find out, Venngage examined the top performing articles posted over a three-month span on 24 high-traffic sites known for producing content with engaging titles. The publishers examined included Buzzfeed, Upworthy, Cracked, The Huffington Post, Vox, and Clickhole. The researchers identified seven key clickbait headline factors:

  • lists
  • personal stories
  • animal references
  • pop culture/food topics
  • news topics
  • unknown ideas/new stories
  • an element of shock

Some 79% of the headlines of the most popular posts examined included an element of shock (“Inspiring! This Runner Stopped Just Yards From The Finish To Put A Collapsed Rival Out Of Her Misery“). More than half also referenced something new (“Instagrammer Matches Makeup to Socks“), a topic currently in the news (“Bernie Sanders Will Win the Democratic Nomination and Presidency in a Landslide“), or pop culture/food (“The Secret Meaning Behind Coldplay, Bruno Mars, and Beyoncé’s Halftime Performance“).

Most of the highly successful headlines examined included three or four of the clickbait factors, the analysis found.

Common Factors of a Clickbait Title - Venggage, 2016
Common Factors of a Clickbait Title – Venggage, 2016

Most of the highly successful headlines examined included three or four of the clickbait factors, the analysis found.

How Many Clickbait Factors Did The Titles Include? - Venggage, 2016
How Many Clickbait Factors Did The Titles Include? – Venggage, 2016

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