LA Times reporters bought 62,000 “views” for this video for about $100. It’s 1:47 of paint drying.
Two weeks ago, LA City Attorney Carmen Trutanich was caught buying at least 650,000 views on YouTube for his upcoming campaign for District Attorney. How many views did he actually get for his videos? Only about 725,000.
The Trutanich Campaign did it, apparently, for bragging rights– “Look! 725,000 people want Carmen to be the DA!” That this was more views than the presidential videos were getting never occurred to them. Sure, there could be 725,000 people anxiously waiting by their computers in February for news about November’s Los Angeles DA race, but I’m thinking it’s probably more like 6.
This is kind of like a losing ball club that pays to have 62,000 inflatable dolls taped to the seats to fool 10,000 real people into showing up– for free. Not only is nobody fooled, the ball club wastes a fortune. And so it is with Carmen’s campaign.
In this case, the campaign victimized themselves. But this happens in varying degrees every day to unsuspecting clients.
At its most “innocent”, Web PR firms flood blogs and Facebook with promotions and ads to get people talking about a video, which then takes off or not on its own. At worst, clients pay view factories to gin up tens or hundreds of thousands of “views” and “comments” to make the video look like a viral sensation. Many cases are probably somewhere in between– a real PR effort, but with few thousand extra views slipped in here and there just to flesh things out for the client.
Here’s the truth about viral video: You can’t shine sh*&. Nobody watches bad video. Instead of paying for bots to spam YouTube, spend a little more time and money making a decent video. Impressing 25,000 passionate viewers will do your business a lot more good than ginning up 725,000 cyberphantoms.