The Myth of Consumption-Based Content Promotion

My mom calls it the “Lally bone”; the Irish Dindsenchas refer to it as the spurs of Cormac MacAirt (of whom my ancestors, the Lally’s, and most of the Northern Irish Kings claimed direct male-line decent).

It’s a calcaneonavicular coalition, a hereditary fusion of the calcaneus (heel bone) and navicular bone (located in the top inner side of the foot). It appears to have originated in the British Isles with the Amesbury Archer, who from his tooth enamel appears to have been born in the Alps, and is associated with the raising of the large sarsen stones at Stonehenge. It’s a minor foot defect I inherited from my dad, that lingered throughout the generations for no other reason than to validate a claim of royal decent. Personally, I’d prefer it if my feet were a tad less regal!

As the world becomes increasingly connected, trends become easier to map out, behaviors to dissect, and outcomes to understand. There has been a focus in recent years on associating increased consumption with engagement, but the two are not entirely mutually supportive concepts.

The term “clickbait” refers to the practice of a deceptive web link, sometimes through an inaccurate title or image, which pitches “snake oil” to entice people to navigate to something that would otherwise be of little-to-no interest. It’s a content delivery model that makes driving consumption easy, but provides little to engage viewers, and often just makes navigating the web a lot more frustrating. Much of my day job does involve trying to drive increased consumption for our customers, but it’s a case of consumption being driven through engagement—identifying what spurs people on to want to read more.

Herein lies one of the great challenges on the Internet: as companies struggle to monetize web properties, it’s easy to head down the slippery slope of consumption-based content promotion. As with retail, the dividends from a happy customer are huge, and whatever your revenue model is, anyone that views your content on the web is a customer of said content.

Much as a hereditary defect is a fairly lousy quality to qualify who should be your next leader, there’s a lot more to engagement than counting clicks!

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