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Fake YouTube views are nothing new but a recent music industry crackdown shed some light on just how common the practice is. Ten days ago, Google eliminated 2 billion fake views from record label run YouTube channels. Artists as big as Beyoncé, Rihanna and Justin Bieber were hit with reality.
It has been said fake views were bought to build credibility, prestige and ad revenue. After all, videos are evaluated based on view count and there is natural rivalry between channels. Other may do it simply because they can. Like the guy who recently acquired 60,000 views for 50 dollars as a Christmas gift to himself.
But there is also another likely reason: personal targets. If you work with videos, it’s likely your success is evaluated based on views because it seems like a solid, simple measure. A manager might be tempted to say: ”If you want your bonus, show me a video with 2 million views.” When the system is flawed, people are tempted to game it.
What would make better targets then? Engagement is definitely one. Whenever I see a video with 3 million views but it only has two dozen comments and a total of 90 likes or dislikes, I get suspicious. I’m looking at you Motorla Mobility and Droid Razr.
As a Google subsidiary, Motorola is probably buying views legitimately through YouTube advertising and even reaching its target audience. But what is it all worth if the content is not interesting to anyone? No one comments. No one likes. No one shares. The viewers might even drop off after the first 10 seconds. No problem.
At the end of December, the Droid Razr video was number six on YouTube’s Science & Technology chart for the month. For competitors, it might have seemed like a legitimate win. But it wasn’t. It was a mediocre piece of work with a big ad budget or a sponsored video not correctly labeled as one.
Yes, you should use advertising to seed and promote, but if the paid push isn’t generating any additional buzz or interaction, there’s something wrong with the content. It’s time to go back to the drawing board. Treating online video like it’s TV advertising you can force people to watch regardless of whether they like it or not – that’s a crime even more terrible than buying fake views.
JS: This is a potentially controversial but bold post that I wanted to share on ADM, largely because of the sheer volume of video SEO noise out there containing promises of page one ranking on Google for local long-tail search by make / model / year. Well consider what might occur if a competitor floods the same market with inventory videos. Competitive models will compete for the same search terms, e.g., "2009 Accord San Antonio." Who wins? Obviously there are a variety of factors as noted in past posts; however, engagement is by far most important passive metric. Active metrics include sharing, channel subscription, etc.--all of which by the way are driven by engagement!