Advertising vs. clickbait: Why choose quality over quantity?

On 20/04/2017 by Araceli Almada

After a long day at the office, you come home, sit on the couch, turn the TV on and also take out your smartphone. You start scrolling down on Facebook and click on the following link: “The 20 most beautiful models in the world”. Let’s face it; we have all done that once or twice or more. This is how you end up looking at a pixelated slideshow, reading 20 paragraphs filled with grammar mistakes, and then clicking on a second link that leads you to another article of the same “incredible” quality. We have all been victims from time to time of clickbait which entrain us into a vicious circle.

Clickbait. Where does it come from and why does it exist?

As the attention span of humans decreases every year (according to a study by Microsoft, today it is only 8 seconds in average) ads must be even catchier and more appealing to click. This is why clickbait ads such as the one described above swarm all over the Internet. One of the reasons they exist, is the lucrative business model of “traffic arbitrage”. These are websites that generate huge amounts of traffic, thanks to low-quality ads (clickbait) from bogus websites, that have little to non proprietary content and that look like this: 

As an advertiser, if you are looking for visibility, but low quality traffic and no brand safety, then you are in the right place. Just note that your brand image will suffer great damages. If a premium publisher environment gives you a positive image, the opposite is also true. Your ad will be visible, yes. You will most likely have many more clicks, more often than you would have on a premium publisher. The tradeoff is that the audience will be so unqualified, that those metrics will be totally irrelevant and you will have lost money.

Whether your campaign objectives are branding or performance, arbitrageurs will never offer you the kind of results you will get by partnering with a high-quality native advertising expert that genuinely cares about quality. Here are some tips to help you recognise quality partners:

They have built a premium-publishers-based network to offer brand safety

First, they guarantee brand safety. Major native advertising companies have built a strong publisher network to ensure that advertisers get satisfying results in terms of traffic and visibility. But do not base your choice only in the size of their network. Keep in mind that you look for quality and not quantity. One qualified click is worth more than a hundred unqualified ones. For this reason, you should prefer to advertise on exclusive networks: networks where all publishers, regardless of the amount of traffic they drive, have been hand-picked according to the quality of their content and audience. CTR could sometimes not be as high as what you expect, but you will perform better on more important metrics such as engagement from number of page views, time spent, number of leads and/or conversions. This is what drives real results.

Brand safety also means the advertising neighborhood: your brand image is highly impacted by ads that are next to yours. Let’s consider this recommendation widget:

Would you click on any of these? Probably not, right? Well, if your ad appeared among these, no matter how qualitative and serious your ad might be, most probably no one would care about it. And even if someone did, your brand image will be negatively impacted in the user’s mind. In both cases you lose. Native advertising platforms that are also selective with the advertisers they work with, will be able to guarantee a safe advertising neighborhood. These are the companies you should be looking for if you care about your brand image.

Quality also means experience

Creating high quality ads that generate good results is almost an art. There is a thin line between an appealing yet honest ad and a clickbait. A regular advertiser respects precise guidelines. These can vary on the country you want to advertise in. An English user is not necessarily sensitive to the same elements as a French or an Italian user. We are talking about the image and the text. Choosing a company that is able to provide you with local expertise, is definitely a good start, but probably not enough if you are not an expert. Some native advertising companies can provide you with creative recommendations and have teams dedicated to their client’s success. These are the ones you should focus on.

They respect the user experience

Respecting the user experience is fundamental; not only the creative side of the ad, but also the content. This means you must deliver the right content, to the right user, at the right time and at the right place. A very important aspect and sometimes forgotten is having the right landing page. Your landing page must continue with the promise you made in your ad, which is what attracted the user and made him click in the first place. That promise must be kept all along the customer journey. To that extent, the landing page is the confirmation that your ad is not clickbait nor “fake” or an “over promise”. This might sound like an obvious point, but it is a key factor when building trust with your consumers. Plus, it’s a very easy way for you to make the difference between “clickbait” and your ads.

Second, but not less important: the right content. This is the content that matches with the user’s interests. To do this you should use contextual targeting. It is a feature that allows your ads to be displayed according to what content the user is consuming. Compared to classic behavioral targeting (using cookies), contextual targeting is far more cost-effective since it costs 1.94 times less, and has a cost per action 3.18 times lower*. Plus, you have the opportunity to reach your target audience at the exact time they are expressing an interest. 

This partly solves the problem of "the right time", and we mean partly because time is also a matter of frequency. You don’t want to harass your audience (as this would be the best way to make them run away from your brand). So, choose a platform that is able to set a capping number: the number of times a single user will see your ad. It should be high enough to get a satisfying engagement and low enough to provide an acceptable user experience. Don’t forget we are looking for quality.

Choosing a capping number requires collecting certain data from the user to be able to identify him. As important as it is to collect and analyse the User’s data, it is also to protect it, which means a transparent privacy policy is necessary. A company than can provide such guarantee is a way for you, as an advertiser, to build trust with your customers. By ensuring them that their data won’t be misused or used without their consent. To identify these companies, you can look for labels and certifications (you can usually find them in the privacy policy section of their website). The European Interactive Digital Advertising Alliance (EDAA) provides a list of the most important ones:

Now that you know what the differences are between clean ads and click baits, you know that if you want to preserve your brand image, build trust and engage with your target audience, quality is a must. Something you should look for when choosing a platform to distribute your native ad campaigns.

Curious to learn more about how we provide quality? Contact Us today.


Image source: Getty Image