“The audience-building process is shifting its focus from quality to unabated eyeball collection tactics, with pernicious consequences.” ~ Frederic Filloux
Journalism doesn’t have a clickbait problem. It has a content problem, asserts Chris Sutcliffe in The Media Briefing.
Sutcliffe cites media commentator Frédéric Filloux who argues: “In the news business, duplication and commoditization have reached unprecedented levels.”
“The audience-building process is shifting its focus from quality to unabated eyeball collection tactics, with pernicious consequences,” Filloux continues in an article on the clickbait dilemma in Quartz, in which he calls the practice of collecting those eyeballs a “diversion of publisher resources.”
Not only is it a waste of resources, but it is also damaging to publishers’ brands, Sutcliffe notes.
“In a nutshell, [Filloux’s] argument is that chasing huge audience figures for the sake of diminishing digital ad revenue has led publishers to create expensive-to-maintain ‘clickbait engines’ that lead to uniformity in form, which in turn lessens the value of an individual brand.”
The rise of clickbait comes for the easy availability of massive amounts of user data, in which the reader’s interests are shoved back in their faces with unrelenting regularity. (Think of how many times a day you see “You might also like” to get an idea of the scope of the problem. And then think how many times those bits were worth your time. You get the idea.)
It’s the age of peak content – brands have created so much content that the attention economy is on the verge of collapse. There are ways to use audience data to engage and foster relationships, according to Rian Liebenberg of Schibsted:
“…user-centric publishing models force a publisher to really think about personalisation or personal journalism where you really have to rethink the paradigms around how you do storytelling, how you engage audiences and have a discussion around that topic,” Liebenberg said at a recent media summit.
“To do that you need to understand your audiences in a lot more depth with a lot more clarity… so real-time data, capturing performances and using that to optimise your news as well as related content… [is vital].”
Brands that figure this out will be able to survive the dangers ahead for publishing.