Getting Your Click   Leave a comment

Another annoying trend of news sites these days is finding tricky ways to get you to click on sponsored links … and get paid for tricking you.

I appreciate that journalists need to get paid, I truly do. However, publishers need to pay them using revenue from real journalistic work … not thinly disguised ploys to get you to click on sponsored content. In some cases, sponsored content is almost impossible to discern from normal content. That is always a case of a publisher getting greedy – they are willing to sully their brand by associating with poor content, all in the name of getting your click. That’s just bad curation … like we see here:

1. Don’t read “Around The Web” sections. These are mass-produced articles … made to get you interested enough to click through. When you do, you’ll find almost no content, surrounded by ads.

I was reading about the inauguration of President Wilson in The Atlantic ... and these are the ads that accompanied that historical article on my computer.

I was reading about the inauguration of President Wilson in The Atlantic … and these are the ads that accompanied that historical article on my computer. For the record, I don’t drink wine, I don’t buy bikinis, I don’t have a fuel efficient car and I am not looking for a job. The Rockler ad makes sense … but I’m not interested in any of the pictured products. All in all, an advertising FAIL.

2. Don’t read Facebook’s “answer 10 questions and find out what kind of a _________ you are.” Or find out where you belong. Or what character you are like. These are simple things, yes, but they are asking you to spend time answering a survey to find out what some faceless dweeb has determined that your answers qualify you to be. No thank you.

3. Don’t read anything on Facebook that’s sourced from BuzzFeed. Or Thrillist. See # 1. Solution: click on the carrot in the upper right hand corner of an offending story, and select “Hide everything from BuzzFeed,” and Facebook will remove it from your feed, permanently.

This is exactly the kind of FB advertiser I'm talking about. I don't know who Mike the copywriter is ... but I'm pretty sure this isn't his picture.

This is exactly the kind of FB advertiser I’m talking about. I don’t know who Mike the copywriter is … but I’m pretty sure this isn’t his picture.

4. I respect Facebook advertisers … but those idiots that pair their message with a picture of a pretty young lady that has nothing to do with their product (like a “start a new career with woodworking” site I saw this week) are beneath contempt.

5. “You Might Also Like” … no, no, I won’t. This so-called feature runs below news and sports stories on several sites. In light gray type to the right of that headline, you’ll see “Promoted Content By Taboola.” This is simply pay-for-play from all of these “news” sources. The content is not good, no matter how interesting the pictures and how intriguing the headlines.

6. Bleacher Report, one of my sports sites, has a habit of producing stories that gather quick summaries on just about any topic, and then packages them for every team in the league. Or every team in college football. Or every Top 25 team. Whatever. In each case, the coverage is brief, to be kind, and the result is you click though 10 or 15 or 25 pages just to find a small nugget of information on the 2 or 3 teams or players that you’re interested in. Waste. Of. My. Time.

7. Here’s my new rule of thumb with Facebook videos. When a friend shares them, I check out the displayed link. If I am familiar with the website, I may click through. If I don’t know the website … I probably won’t click, unless my friend explains why I should in their post. But I probably won’t click if I don’t know the host site … because it’s probably another “pay for click” type presentation, and I just don’t have time to watch another cute animal video. Or see what the policeman’s dance moves are like during Mardi Gras.

8. Pop-overs & pop-unders are those annoying new web pages that open on your browser without warning when you enter or exit a site. The former opens on top of the content you’re trying to read and is, of course, the most annoying and the highest compensated by the annoying insurance and home loan companies that seem to always buy them. The pop-unders are actually more insidious, as you often don’t know the source of the ad … you don’t even see it until you start closing down your browser. There’s only one solution: close them quickly & don’t support the sponsors’ annoying marketing practices with your business.

I’m probably getting my curmudgeon on here. Sorry about that.

Simply, I don’t have time to wade through all of the low-quality content attempting to masquerade as journalism … I have little enough time for the good stuff.

Journalism, I mourn for thee.

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