As the owner of the most popular video sharing platform, YouTube, Google is committed to making the number of views that any video there receives is an accurate figure. There have been recent reports that some third party agencies are hiring people to view certain videos in an effort to boost the view count. Google states that this is only occurring a very tiny percentage of YouTube videos, but that the company will step up its policing efforts to root out this problem.
YouTube currently prohibits users from inflating views under its usage agreement. It also specifically forbids the practice of paying others to view a video, misleading others into clicking on a video and redirecting visitors from one video to another. It is suspected that the bad actors who are managing these fake view techniques are marketing groups who are trying to sell companies on the prowess of their marketing techniques.
While fraudulent views is likely only a small problem on YouTube, there are a number of reasons why the company and its parent organization are stepping up policing activity. The first reason is that YouTube is growing in importance as a generator of marketing revenue. Video ad spend is becoming a larger piece of the pie for all online marketing publishers. Between 2012 and 2013, video ad spend surged almost 43.5%, with $2.9 billion in sales in 2012 growing to $4.1 billion a year later.
The increasingly important role of video ads means that Google must prevent the practice of buying fake views from growing before it significantly skews the marketing analytics of the YouTube platform. This leads to the second major point which is that fake views damages the authenticity of the entire YouTube program. Many marketers who place ads on YouTube may find themselves with huge view counts, but with no conversions, while others may have limited view counts but relatively high conversion rates.
If left unchecked, this would lead advertisers to question the value of measuring view counts, which is a pivotal standard on YouTube. If businesses can’t trust the number of views to reflect consumer interest, then they may call into question a number of other marketing analytics related to YouTube. This would undermine the value of YouTube as a marketing channel, which Google is eager to prevent.
The third factor to consider is that Google has an earnest interest in optimizing the user experience, not only at YouTube but across the web. YouTube visitors who seek out the most popular posts may find themselves with unappealing videos who have only reached popularity through fraudulent means.
Google announced that it would introduce more fine grain investigative techniques identify videos with view tallies which were being artificially inflated. These would include scanning view counts associated with marketing spam, as well as instituting more validation checks at shorter time intervals to ensure that a large number of views were not being perpetrated over a narrow period of time.