Not What It Seems: YouTube Now Searching for Fake Views

Advertising is based on the idea of selling a product; it's a business of selling stuff that is either not needed or doesn’t work as intended, or doesn't even exist. For example, there is nothing as perfectly deceptive as those firms that “sell” you your credit ratings—something you can get for free, twice a year.

So it’s not surprising that Google YouTube is now attempting to prevent some users from misleading others about how popular a video is by essentially manufacturing views. Last week, YouTube said it will begin periodically validating a video’s view count.

Philipp Pfeiffenberger, a Google software engineer explained in a MediaPost story last week,  "While in the past we would scan views for spam immediately after they occurred, starting today, we will periodically validate the video's view count, removing fraudulent views as new evidence comes to light. We don't expect this approach to affect more than a minuscule fraction of videos on YouTube, but we believe it's crucial to improving the accuracy of view counts and maintaining the trust of our fans and creators."



Miniscule, of course, is a relative term, especially for YouTube, which claims its users consume 6 billion hours of YouTube videos per month, so even a “miniscule fraction” can add up to real, hard numbers. But “periodically”  is also relative. Periodic checking for a miniscule problem will probably not end the fraud, just slow it down. YouTube, not surprisingly, recommends advertisers and content providers check its TrueView for an honest accounting.

“YouTube isn’t just a place for videos, it’s a place for meaningful human interaction,” Pfeiffenberger wrote on YouTube blog. “Whether it’s views, likes, or comments, these interactions both represent and inform how creators connect with their audience. That’s why we take the accuracy of these interactions very seriously. When some bad actors try to game the system by artificially inflating view counts, they’re not just misleading fans about the popularity of a video, they’re undermining one of YouTube’s most important and unique qualities.

“As YouTube creators, we ask you to be extra careful when working with third-party marketing firms; unfortunately some of them will sell you fake views.” the blog says.

The fake-est views are ones that try to create views by fooling users into playing a YouTube video on their way to another Web site by creating a hard to follow online path to get to where you want to be. Of course, probably the easiest way to fake out a potential advertiser is to buy views, by the thousands, from companies that facilitate that kind of thing. YouTube took the opportunity to tell the world what it defines as a view: It’s a user-initiated watch of a video, by a human being. You’d think that would be hard to fake. Turns out, it’s just hard to detect.

1 comment about "Not What It Seems: YouTube Now Searching for Fake Views ".
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  1. Jay Singh from ViralGains, February 11, 2014 at 2:37 p.m.

    The major ad tech companies don't even take YT seriously anymore. While blocking off fraudulent views is a good thing, they have inadvertently shut out ad tech providers who drive legitimate impressions that fit within the site's policy.

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