posted by Benedict Townsend

Viewers are tired of being mislead

For those of you who don’t know, ‘clickbaiting’ is the art of luring in a viewer using a certain title or image, which is then not relevant to the thing you’ve made. So for example, if you call your video ‘I HAD A HEART ATTACK’ and put a picture of an ambulance in the thumbnail, but then in the video you reveal that you didn’t have a heart attack at all, you could be accused of clickbaiting.




Clickbait and YouTube

Clickbait on YouTube has traditionally revolved around the age-old message that ‘sex sells’. Since the dawn of the tubes, video makers have been putting gratuitous cleavage in their thumbnails and using completely unrelaistcially sexual video titles to try (and absolutely succeed) to lure in curious pervs. We all know that YouTube has a strict policy against nudity (at least outside of music videos), so it’s baffling that people are always tricked by this, but I guess we human beings are pretty weak. I’d post a picture example here but this is a wholesome family website, so instead here’s a picture of a delightful puppy:



Lately a more evolved form of clickbait has taken hold. Established creators have begun to use clickbait to boost their content – or to hide the true nature of the video. As an example, we have recently discussed how YouTubers have been getting in hot water for making announcement videos but framing them so that they look like coming out videos. More broad clickbait has been an issue for a while though. One of the most irritating examples probably being the ‘my first time’ series:


Screen Shot 2016-02-16 at 16.28.48 Screen Shot 2016-02-16 at 16.29.15 Screen Shot 2016-02-16 at 16.29.22 Screen Shot 2016-02-16 at 16.29.29 Screen Shot 2016-02-16 at 16.29.44 Screen Shot 2016-02-16 at 16.29.49


What do all these videos have in common? None of them are about their first time having sex. Let’s not pretend that ‘my first time’ doesn’t immediately give the impression that it’s going to be sex-related – particularly when coupled with a thumbnail like this:


Screen Shot 2016-02-16 at 16.29.29


In the opening fifteen seconds of Alfie’s video, he reassures the viewer that his video is actually not about his first time – but surely if you have to explain that your video title is wrong at the start of your video, that’s a sign that it’s a misleading title.


When Is It NOT Clickbait?

The issue is not about having an attractive video title/image. Websites and creators will often use mysterious or alluring titles (‘You’ll never guess who just got married!’) to draw people in, but unless they are just a full-blown trick, it is difficult to accuse them of clickbaiting. If a YouTuber releases a video called ‘I’M PREGNANT!’ and then in the video they are absolutely not pregnant, that is clickbait – but if a YouTuber calls their video ‘HUGE NEWS’, then that’s fine. It’s attractive, it’s vague, but it’s not a lie. This is an important distinction to make, because we have to accept that it can be hard to get your videos seen and YouTubers need all the help they can get. ‘Tubers gotta hustle, bro.



Creators Are Annoyed Too

It’s not just viewers that are growing tired of clickbait, other creators are also becoming weary of seeing the platform they love falling victim to misleading marketing.


Screen Shot 2016-02-16 at 17.23.29

Here we can see that Lily and Gabriella feel the same as we do – that it’s fine to have attractive and enticing titles, but it’s a jerk move to name your video something that is then not relevant at all to what the video shows.


We Asked You What You Guys Think About Clickbait

We reached out to you guys and asked your opinions on clickbait and we had some interesting responses. Some of you were angry:



But there was also sympathy shown for creators. This is one of the nicest arguments – that creators don’t need to use clickbait, cos we love them enough already to watch them!




What do you think about clickbait? Let us know on Facebook or on twitter.