But chances are you won’t know what you’re getting before you click. Today, a single-digit percentage of readers will click through a link in an “Around the Web” module, compared to 0.1 percent who will click on a traditional banner ad. But banner ads once had high clickthrough rates themselves. Over time, readers learned that banners rarely led to anything good. At Outbrain and companies like it, there’s an existential fear that their own products could suffer a similar fate. Speaking of the company’s ideal customer, LaCour says: “We want to make sure that she’s happy and she’s delighted. If we as an industry continue to try to clickbait her, and she’s not happy after she clicked, then we’re all screwed.” (LaCour says Outbrain strives to recommend only high-quality links.)
There's a very interesting story about weaponized clickbait over at The Verge about those crappy links you seem to see at the bottom of every news story. I've been shocked at how cheaply you can buy a major publisher's journalistic integrity. Whenever time I see that on a news site, I find myself grouping that site into a HuffPo or TMZ level of integrity. Then I usually go take a bath.
The article reminded me of companies like AllAdvantage. I had an account with them to get paid for banner ads to show at the lower portion of your screen. Unfortunately I never made a cent from that.1
- I probably never made any money from that because 1) I had no one under me and 2) I had some program that hacked the system to remove the ads. ↩