How To Cheat Your Client and Why You Shouldn’t

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Every gold rush has it’s opportunists. The gold rush of viral marketing is no exception. Before we leave the gold rush phase and move into a more mature market, agencies will keep running around waving YouTube views in the faces of marketing managers to show off how creative they are. But are they really?

There are two problems with measuring success in terms of YouTube views:

  1. YouTube view count not a good KPI on it’s own. Measuring success that way temps us to turn to malpractices like clownvertising rather than aiming for healthy business goals for our clients.
  2. Focusing on this number encourages cheating.

Cheating can be done in different ways, but probably the most common way is to buy views from sites such as these. Tempting if you only measure your success in views, is it not? Damaging for our industry? Certainly.

So how can you spot a cheater? Well – first you have to check out the view graph. To do this you click on the little button to the right of the view count in the YouTube window.

Second, you take a look at this graph. Here’s what a GENUINE viral graph looks like:

The graph grows organically without strange bumps caused by the mysterious parameter “viral/other”.

An agency or individual that has cheated to spice up their view count will have a different behavior. Here’s a typical example of what cheating could look like:

Especially note the major bump in the beginning. If you dig deeper into this video for yourself, you’ll see that the bump is caused by “viral/other” – a sure fire sign of bought views.

Some agencies have realized this and removed the graphs altogether to cover their tracks. Doing this however is an active choice. The graphs are by default visible. If you take a look at some of your favorite virals and see that their graphs have been removed, this is a sign that something very fishy is going on. Why would you make the active choice of removing this graph if you have nothing to hide?

So why am I showing you this? Well – I am tired of sitting in meetings where people want us to give them YouTube views. We are not in the business of clownvertising, but in the business of creating business value for our clients. This is done by being structured and creative in setting up an awesome KPI-set (i.e. quality embeds and other REAL interactions) and using that to dynamically control our activities. At the end of the day, my job is to boost our clients business. Otherwise I could as well work as… well… a clown I guess. 🙂

About the Blog

This blog is written by Walter Naeslund and has been around since 2007. The blog is about the journey of starting an advertising agency and a sneak peek behind the scenes of what goes on at the Honesty HQ in SoFo, Södermalm. It is also a blog about communication & technology. The blog has gathered almost a thousand posts over the years with several longer and shorter breaks. Welcome and enjoy.
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