Why is Clickbait So Common in Online Content Creation?

Scrolling through content online will give you a pretty good idea of just how pervasive clickbait has become in the online content space. A lot of people claim that they hate clickbait because of the fact that this is the sort of thing that could potentially end up making them watch content that is not all that valuable to them, but an influencers by the name of Derek Muller who runs the massively successful YouTube channel Veritasium published a video that shows the paradoxical nature of this statement.

Muller makes videos about science and math that manage to convey some pretty complex ideas in a way that is easily digestible by people that are otherwise unfamiliar with these concepts. He starts the video off by drawing attention to his older videos, many of which had very obvious titles and thumbnails that did not draw the viewer in. This resulted in his videos underperforming with all things having been considered and taken into account, and in a lot of instances other people would reupload the video with a different thumbnail and a more clickbait-y title and they would get a lot more views than him.

Muller then goes on to describe what clickbait actually is. In a lot of ways, virtually any kind of title is going to involve some form of clickbait because the content creator would want to take advantage of something that is known as the curiosity gap. This is a phenomenon that occurs when you see a glimpse of something and get curious enough to actually go and check these things out, and an online content creator relies on the curiosity gap because if they gave away too much information in the title and thumbnail they might not get the click through rate that they need.

The video further discusses how YouTube’s live analytics changed the game in a lot of respects. Content creators could now see a live representation of how many views their content was getting, and it became a lot more common for them to start looking into changing the thumbnail and title to see if it would improve the view count. In most cases this process actually did work, and part of Muller’s video involved an interview of arguably the most successful YouTuber out there Mr. Beast who is well known for using clickbait to his advantage.

Another thing that the video discusses is how not all clickbait is created equal. Some clickbait draws viewers into a video that will genuinely be informative and legitimate, but if the clickbait leads to a video that is not accurate or informative at all then it will effectively turn into a form of manipulation. Hence, clickbait is not as bad as a lot of people think it is, and in many ways it is just a facet of the online content creation space that just comes with the territory.

With all of that having been said and now out of the way, it is important to note that clickbait is evolving and Muller describes a few examples of this in his video (featured below). One example has to do with what many call “anti-clickbait”. This is a form of clickbait where the curiosity gap exploiting question in the title actually gets answered in the thumbnail, usually in the form of yes or no. However, the curiosity gap still exists due to the reason that the viewer does not know the reasoning behind this yes or no answer, and sometimes the answer itself might go against what they had expected which results in them being more likely to click.

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