This article was published on August 4, 2016

Twitter’s new ad format sounds a lot like legitimizing clickbait

Twitter’s new ad format sounds a lot like legitimizing clickbait

Twitter is introducing a new type of ad today called Instant Unlock Cards. They sound great for brands, but pretty sucky for users.

Here’s the gist of it: A brands tweets out a teasing image – say, for a movie trailer. Want to read or see more? Sorry, you have to tweet out #something first. Then the full trailer will be unlocked.

It’s a lot like those awful “share to see more” promotions on Facebook.

You could argue that this isn’t clickbait, as brands aren’t necessarily deceiving you about what lies after you share the tweet. The thing is, many probably will. As far as we can tell, Twitter isn’t putting any checks in place to make sure the unlocked content remains true to the original promise.

But perhaps a the bigger issue is that brands don’t have to actually earn your share. They could promise you a cool trailer, but what if it ends up being completely dull and boring? Well, it doesn’t matter – you’ve already retweeted the brand’s message. Sure, you could delete your tweet after watching, but who’s actually going to do that?

I’m not saying everything brands do with Instant Unlock Cards will be clickbait; providing exclusive content on specific platforms is fairly standard. Brands that have tested the cards have seen higher earned impressions (although again, I’d question whether they’ve been truly ‘earned’).

Nor am I saying I have a better alternative off the top off my head. But effectively legitimizing clickbait doesn’t sound like the right approach to me.

We’ve contacted Twitter for more information about whether it has checks in place to avoid clickbait, and will update if we hear back.

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