Click-bait, Buzzfeed and Advertising Qualms

In the very original theme of convergence, the ability for an industry or corporation to exist, relies heavily on their ability to adapt through innovation. For an industry to adapt, they must move with their market, innovating new ways for individuals to interact with their product in order to make a profit of some sort.

The obvious and most fluid form of innovation is inherent in the industry of marketing.

Marketing as we know it is the influx of advertisements convincing a demographic or two, to buy from a range of products. Key word in there is convincing. Not everyone’s curiosity will be piqued by a product of a specific colour or shape or utility, but then again, not every demographic will be targeted by a product.

But convincing an audience as an innovated concept is what will be targeted throughout this article.

Advertising’s movement from the analogue form to the digital was surprisingly rapid after the emergence of new technologies, such as radio, television and the Internet. What was once the pinnacle of promotion and publicity, such as flyers, ad-space in print media, and even criers for a specific business have been replaced by banner-ads, sponsored articles on legitimate-ish news websites, and popups, as well as a whole range of other nonsense.

Although the former still exists in many respects, the latter takes its cue to be creative in order to bait the curiosity of its lingering audience. In print media, such as full-page ads in the Sydney Morning Herald or some such, an individual is simply unable to just ignore or skip past advertisements confronting them. Even if they make the decision to move forward a few pages, the brand sticks in their subconscious mind. While this effect is too complex to go into too much detail, marketing’s sole purpose is to plant this seed of a brand in the mind of an individual, hoping it will influence them at a later stage.

However, when you take the ability away for a brand’s advertisement to be removed completely from view, zero influence can take place upon the individual, unless they specifically seek it out.  This is what forces the need to be creative, and force an audience to view your brand, especially when the Internet is a business’s major marketing medium.

A majority of content creators require a large amount of Internet traffic in order to turn some sort of profit on their written or recorded activities, whether it’s a video, pod-cast or written articles such as this one.

Using YouTube as an example, many content creators (who were previously paid for the amount of views on their content) opt to allow largely unskippable advertisements at the start, or middle of their videos, which benefited marketers due to the exposure the content netted their brand. However, the exponential use of Internet plug-ins such as ‘Ad-Block’ and other script-blockers, allowed individuals the ability to circumvent the absurdly intrusive advertisements. (These plugin creators were also recently threatened with a lawsuit which is vaguely hilarious). Being unable to subdue this circumventing of advertisements, corporations have had to adapt to the current marketing situation on the Internet – individuals will only be piqued by curiosity.

Taking BuzzFeed for example, it holds very little light to an analogue equivalent, and more or less adapted from nothing. Its articles prey on the concept of the curiosity gap obvious in individuals  – which is where a person wants to satisfy their curiosity piqued by an article’s title but doesn’t want to go to all the effort of actually going off to a third-party for the information mentioned.

Articles on major news aggregation websites, similarly utilize this concept, and where journalists and writers were once considered an objective resource, are now acting as overqualified salesmen, quite like those charity muggers you might see in the CBD of Wollongong or Sydney. And instead of having to purposefully avoid eye-contact, an individual is pretty much forced to engage in the article, where it’s then revealed that it was in-fact “Sponsored by [insert seedy company’s name here which probably has unethical ties to the given writer]” in italics buried underneath the piles of text.

But is this a moral adaptation to the modern times? Should businesses be allowed to prey on such concepts?

I’m not a big fan of them, to be completely honest.


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