What in the world is this marketing technique?

Everyone has probably seen those “One weird trick” click-bait links on various websites. They usually involve something sexual or something people are curious about. However, one I keep seeing is something along the lines of “Eat this one weird food for weight loss,” usually accompanied by a picture of the grossest, most trypophobia-inducing thing imaginable.

Now, I’m as much a sucker for a weight-loss scam as the next gal, but I can’t wait to get away from those ads. They make me feel slightly ill just to look at them. What are they trying to accomplish?

I don’t know that there’s a particular name for that technique. But you can dissect it and understand why it would be appealing. If I show someone who is morbidly obese and you are just overweight, it says “hey, it helped this fat guy who is far worse off than you, so it can help you too”, plus any image that is unusual will call attention to itself. By saying it is this “one thing”, it makes you think there is an easy solution to your problem, which people like to hear. Think about things you click in general, and you’ll see you are more likely to check something out if it loads quickly, is easy to understand, and requires minimum commitment on your part that is “low risk”. I might have a ten page story that is hilarious, but that will take you a few minutes to read, versus that funny GIF of a cat dancing around you could click instead. And if it’s “one thing”, well how hard is that to remember? If I told you “just do these 37 things in this exact order to lose weight”, then that doesn’t have the same attraction. You’ll have to write that down and you might be reading this on your phone…I see these same adds with some photoshopped ape of a bodybuilder, often with Matt Damon’s head on it for some reason, that say you can built muscle with “just this one trick”.

I’ve often joked that when you click it, it should say, “exercise more, eat better, and eat less of it”. Isn’t that the basis for every diet book in one line?

It’s advertising; anything at all to get you to click on the link is Good. It doesn’t have to be relevant or meaningful or make the slightest bit of sense as long as it intrigues or tricks you into clicking.

Which is also a malware technique. Anti-malware protection has evolved to the point where malware can do very little without user permission - which includes a click to invite the little SOB into your system. A link that says CLICK HERE TO COMPLETELY DESTROY YOUR COMPUTER AND YOUR LIFE wouldn’t work for many people, hence the endless ways such links are dressed up and camouflaged. The window dressing is just that, be it from Your Bank or UPS or the FBI or HotBlondesInc or whatever… they just want you to pretty please with sugar on top and free magic inside and you’re now a millionaire CLICK ON THE GODDAMNED LINK!

And then you’re screwed.

So, what is that food?

I’m a little underweight right now, so I need to avoid it.

Slate did an article on these ads.

Wow–I didn’t realize they were all the same “20 minute Powerpoint presentation” type. I ran across one of those a while back. It was obvious pretty early what the strategy was, but I left it going in the background to see how long it would go. I had to quit after 5 minutes since it was so unbelievably boring–the whole thing was basically “keep watching to find out the 10 items you need to buy before Obama causes the apocalypse”.

I know some anti-Obama nutjobs and I still don’t understand who their target audience is.

The “one weird trick to double you social security payments” amuses me. I see it mostly on right wing sites like World Net Daily. A site that caters to those perpetually outraged at Obama’s ‘gubmint handouts’ is advertising a weird trick to get more social security.

Apart from hoping that the reader will click the link - the tactic of using an ugly object, a strange GIF or an unusually ugly face or animal - is to capture the eye just long enough to cause the reader to consider clicking the link.

If they can’t get people to even look at their ads, they’re not working.

We’ve had a thread on this: http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=599667