By Eric Beasley
No, this is not an actual article about the homosexual proclivities of Republicans. I do not know nor care about the sexual orientation of anyone, especially politicians. Pre-apology to my many LBGT friends out there, but I have a very important point to make here. This is a lesson in click-bait spam-vertisement websites.
Lesson One: Why did you click on this link?
You likely saw a headline that caught your attention. You also saw an accompanying picture, and automatically linked the picture and headline to each other. You self-implied some link between the headline and the picture. Now, review the pictures on the right. These are actual click-bait spam-vertisements out there on websites right now. You probably noticed the skull-carved avocado and now you are wondering “I thought avocados were healthy, I should read that article to make sure it is not a death food.” Obviously, everyone knows that avocados are a healthy food, but the picture and title were enough to get you to want to click the link and find out more.
Here’s another great example of false headlines. At the top, many of you probably recognize Andre the Giant, of WWF (or WWE, depending on how old you are) and The Princess Bride fame. What is this “terrible” crime he committed? He allegedly roughed up a reporter, though the charges were dropped. But the headline was enough to either make you click the link, or Google his criminal record. As for the bottom picture…. well that is self-explanatory….
Lesson 2: Why do people create click-bait spam-vertisements and what do they have to gain from it?
Now that you know the what, the next logical question is why? Advertisements on web pages are no different than TV or radio advertisements. The site owner makes money off of page views and the errant clicks on said advertisements. The amount depends on the ad service, page views, and how many page visitors click on these links. Taboola, the spam-vertisement page cited in the top picture, pays approximately 15 to 30 cents per advertisement click, assuming 0.5% of visitors click on the spam-vertisement.
Lesson 3: But they only make money when I click the links. What if I never click the links?
When a company buys a TV commercial, they have no guarantee that you will purchase the product. TV networks charge for commercials based off viewership, how many people are likely to see the advertisement. Web pages work the same way, they can charge based off viewership. Your page views help qualify these site owners for said advertising programs. Many have traffic requirements to join their advertising network. And be honest with yourself, you have and will click these links at least once.
Lesson 4: Never trust the headline of a click-bait spam-vertisement website.
When a site has multiple advertisements on a page, for example 7 areas for advertisements and an obnoxious pop-up, they are not promoting news or valid opinion. They are more akin to a shock jock, Jerry Springer, or Maury. They endeavor to generate webpage traffic through faux-controversy. Generally, if you read the site for more than 10 seconds (average amount of time a person reads an article), you will notice that the headline is either flat-out wrong or there is a lack of logical thought behind the stance in the headline.
The moral of the story? Do not trust the headlines. Do not promote and propagate click-bait spam-vertisement websites.