More and more websites are resorting to maddening slideshows to present their content…and depending on the platform, there’s a good reason.
Sometimes, website slideshows can be a very effective way of communicating information.
A picture, after all, can be worth a thousand words or even more.
But some websites that are often accused of clickbait (and are guilty of it) have been resorting to slideshows or photo galleries to display, one click at a time, minute amounts of information that they could just as easily have provided on a single page and in a reasonable-length article.
So what’s with the slideshows?
It’s simple. Depending on how website platforms and measuring tools like Google Analytics count up things, a slideshow can be a very good thing for a site’s stats.
One of the most famous examples of clickbait I’ve mentioned involves a “related link” on a legitimate site about celebrity deaths. This is pretty common, actually. A while back, I ran accross one that featured a photo of actor Michael J. Fox. It was surprising, especially since Fox isn’t dead. Recently, I ran across a similar example with a photo of Kirstie Alley and the headline, “27 Celebs Who Passed Away and Not a Word Was Said.”
Well, I’ll go out on a limb and venture a guess on that one: not a word was said about Kirstie Alley’s death because she, like Fox, is still alive.
When you do click such a link, what you’ll often find is a slideshow. The first image will usually be a title, so you have to click the “Next” button once to even reach the first item — in this case, a dead celebrity — on their list. That image will have a short caption. You click the button again and you may well see the same image with a different caption. I’ve seen some of these that might use the same photo four times in a row, each time changing only the caption, giving you the details in dribs and drabs before finally featuring a different item and starting the process over again.
Some of these slideshows might feature 50 slides or more, but when you reach the last page, you may only have read writeups of about 10 to 15 people.
But it’s all about the clicks.
On some sites, each click of a slideshow is recorded as an individual page view. That’s not always true, especially on mobile, because, depending on how a mobile version of a site displays the same information, you may not get a page view for each image.
But websites looking for cheap and easy page views often take advantage of the practice because they know that even if a weary reader only clicks halfway through that maddening slideshow, they’ve still picked up more than a dozen page views, which increases their total overall page view count and the pages-per-visit count, both of which might be attractive to advertisers.
And speaking of advertisers, most of these slideshows contain embedded ads, meaning that every third or fourth click, you’re served an ad, which you then have to click past a second time just to get to the next true page of the slideshow.
So in addition to beefing up their stats, they’re bringing in additional ad revenue.
It might be one thing if they’d give you the article or even list the names on the page so you could decide whether you’d want to actually click through all of them. Then again, by not doing so, they hope they can trick people into passing through each frame just to hopefully find something they were looking for.