By Sahil Patel
Buying views is a big no-no on YouTube, in the sense that no one will publicly admit to doing it. Though if you’re privy to enough private chatter from people in the industry, you’ll be told that it apparently happens more than you realize. After all, it’s a quick way to boost the most important public metric (and measure of success) on YouTube — the number of views your video received.
Going deep on this phenomenon is Frank Elaridi, a freelance producer for ABC News and independent journalist. who partnered with David Beebe Projects to produce and distribute the 24-minute investigative news report, “Fame: For Sale.”
The special report, which is available for free on YouTube, takes a look at the industry revolving around buying views on YouTube as well as fake followers on Twitter. It features interviews with the likes of Benny Fine (of the YouTube duo The Fine Brothers), Sergio Flores (who goes by SexySexMan on YouTube), Radar Online news editor Amber Goodhand, and the founder of Intweetive.net who claims Paris Hilton bought Twitter followers from his company.
“The digital media business has come a long way since we started producing original series for digital distribution, but there’s also a side that many people don’t want to talk about — buying fake views and followers to inflate value — which has a negative effect on everyone in the business, especially advertisers and sponsors who still buy content based on views,” said David Beebe, founder and CEO of David Beebe Projects, in a statement.
It’s certainly a problem worth exploring — especially in an ecosystem that’s as heavily scrutinized as YouTube.
Notably, YouTube dropped the hammer on several major media companies and record labels — including Universal Music Group and Sony — for having illegitimate views. As a result, UMG reportedly was stripped of 1 billion views while Sony lost 850 million.
And whether it’s fair or not, it’s not uncommon to see a video generate a lot of views on YouTube, only for others to later tell us that the success of said video should be attributed, at least partially, to bought views. Some of this is just gossip, but it’s not hard to believe that some people in an industry that’s constantly compared to the hits-driven business of television would try to cheat the system.