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Video Killed the Radio Star

How much is a YouTube view really worth if the view comes from hiring a marketing firm?  Earlier this month, the L.A. Times reported that Los Angeles City Atty. Carmen Trutanich paid for YouTube views for his campaign videos promoting his run for district attorney.
 
His videos boasted 725,000 views, with the most popular clip surpassing any campaign video from GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich or Rick Santorum, according to the Times.
 
Sounds like payola to me.  But I wonder if some videos need “primer” views to promote organic views. Consider the psychological effects of viewing a clip with tens of thousands of views versus a couple dozen.   The more people that view a clip the more likely other people will view the same clip.  Before you know it, the video goes “viral” and begins to prompt some sort of social movement.  And then, perhaps, a politician is elected, a brand gets sticky, or a warlord is overthrown.
 
By now, many of us have heard about the Invisible Children video that net almost 80 million views in about a week.  Are all of these views organic?  Beats me, but the video’s content is very compelling and probably could have drummed up at least a million views without any help from fluffers.

Video Views

YouTube Video Views

 
The bottom line is that the digital world values transparency, and if you are going to hire a marketing firm to bolster views, perhaps disclosing this fact in the first few seconds of the video would actually enhance the credibility of your message.  After all, it’s a lot easier to disclose upfront that you are artificially inflating video views, as opposed to suffering the consequences of someone else, i.e. the media, disclosing this fact.
 
Even better yet, how about producing video content that is actually worthy of bona fide viewership?

 

— Evan Pondel, epondel@pondel.com