Cloudy with a chance of click-bait

Cloudy with a chance of click-bait


Sensational headlines have infiltrated the mass media and are now even taking over our weather reports.

This winter season, watch out for “polarizing” weather headlines like, “Arctic outbreak to bring coldest air of season; subzero temperatures possible.”

Sometimes advertisers try to create a story where there really isn’t one, which blows both content and unfortunately, brands, out of touch with reality.

Be wary of making a site’s content more dramatic than it really is.

These types of headlines are likened to click-bait-like sponsored content.

Most people have encountered bait and switch tactics, where users are presented with a flashing link offer for free iPads, losing 200 pounds or some other unbelievable headline, and then presented content that doesn’t match user expectations.

With more and more news publishers like Time Inc., Hearst Corp and Business Insider opening up to programmatic ad exchanges, the likelihood of encountering misguided or overdramatized sponsored content titles and native ads could increase if advertisers are not careful.

True, companies want to lift click-through-rates and consumer engagement, but this shouldn’t be a by all means necessary method. Programmatic advertisers should always strive to preserve and build their brand’s promise.

A brand’s promise is its highest calling – it is the main functional and rational benefit offered to its consumers. It is a core component of a brand’s identity in the minds of their consumers, thus deserving respect.

Respect should be granted because it is often very strongly rooted in the consumers’ minds, and therefore, not easy to change. For instance, is a consumer likely to turn to Men’s Health and Fitness for the latest in Hello-Kitty purses? Probably not. This type of content is not in alignment with the brand’s identity. A consumer’s perception of a brand is his or her reality of that brand.











One would observe the aforementioned dramatic example just as skeptically as they would an article on titled “Vintage Wacky Workouts.” Would one visit a weather site for archaic workouts? It’s simply irrelevant, and one could even argue, detrimental.

Players in the programmatic game are called to not only be advertisers, but publishers at the same time.

According to Corey Thibodeau, director of client services at Brand Networks, advertisers “need to see [themselves] as publishers.” This means their eyes and ears must be cued for curating content worthy of the select audience, platform and brand.  True, there is an overabundance of consumer data which reveal a myriad of interests.  Theoretically (with unlimited funding and time) one could position off of any of the commonalities they find amongst these groups; however, idea editing is key. At the end of the day, brands must be mindful of whether the content they produce is not just of interest to their targeted audience, but actually relevant to their brand to avoid appearing like they are offering “content click-bait.”

There is a fine line advertisers and publishers must acknowledge when straddling compelling content and click-bait. The difference is the same as being perceived as genuine versus fake.

How can you be genuine?

Live up to the brand identity. Know who and what the brand represents and proudly own it. Stick to the truth – your areas of expertise, differentiators, benefits, services and whatever other territory your brand can confidently claim (as consumers can, and will point out tomfoolery in both advertising and branding). Be mindful of appearing as a “fake” in the mind of your audience. Trying to be a voice for irrelevant topics might lead to brand erosion.

Think for an instant about what brand erosion could look like over time.

Today, brand X has a particular identity. The brand has a singular and distinguishable voice at the core of its offerings, which builds a following loyal to its promise. Consumers always know what to expect when they read brand X content because they’ve built a certain trust in what this brand represents.

However, over just a year or two of diluting brand X by pushing irrelevant, click-bait-like content and confusing its audience, that voice disappears. Its followers disappear. Pretty soon, brand X becomes brand what?

Brands have to maintain their authenticity or else risk losing their authority.

At the end of the day, genuine content speaks for itself – not with flashy, vapid headlines, but topics that are true to thy brand.

Agree? Disagree? Please comment below.

By: Nicholas Henderson, Publisher of ProgrammaticAdvertising.Org

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