South Africa: Scraping the Bottom of the Barrel for a Quick Buck

opinion

Lusting after ad revenue, publishers are called out for accepting money from 'chumbox' providers who spread salacious gossip and disinformation.

First published in the Daily Maverick 168 weekly newspaper.

Enthusiasts of SpongeBob SquarePants will recognise the Chum Bucket fast food dive, named for the fisherman's practice of luring fish, particularly apex predators, with mashed-up seafood off-cuts, blood and guts - which is located across the street from its more successful rival, the Krusty Krab. It's nasty, it hones, and it really does appeal to the fishy residents of Bikini Bottom.

It's also an apt description for a form of sleazy, exploitative, low-quality clickbait advertising to drive traffic to other sites and webpages through a selection of content spread across a grid of widget images and captions, often featuring celebrity gossip, gross-out pictures, get-rich-quick schemes or miracle cures.

Don't want to see ads?

A variation on the banner ad, chumbuckets or chumboxes are often presented as additional reading material, flagged as "recommended", "you might also like", "from the web" and "paid content".

Chumbox or "native advertising" providers such as Taboola, RevContent, Wikihealthier and Outbrain are paid for each reader click on the landing website and then give a portion of that...

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