When banner ads first came out, they were extremely effective. Until they were everywhere. Users then found them annoying and stopped clicking them.
Businesses seem to continue chasing what they think is Seth Godin’s “Purple Cow”– something truly remarkable. But they confuse “remarkable” with “shiny”.
And as Kevin Spacey’s House of Cards character Frank Underwood said:
“Money is the McMansion in Sarasota that starts falling apart after 10 years. Power is the old stone building that stands for centuries. I cannot respect someone who doesn’t see the difference.”
Clickbait headlines that “test well” and “convert well” in the short run are the McMansions. What’s the old stone building? It’s what these clickbait headlines try to approximate, which is emotional resonance, lasting value, true enlightenment and inspiration.
Tweaking headlines so people click on them is a terrible approximation for the reason why people click things in the first place.