Video Creators Exposed for Cheating Their Way to Popularity

cheat.jpgHaving plenty of people viewing your YouTube videos has achieved such social status that prominent YouTube creators are “cheating.” In this video Redskulled describes the simple method to inflate total views on your video, and identifies some of the “famous” YouTube cheaters — and shows the crude and simple ways to cheat.

Consider, then, the sites that share ad revenue, and the deeper incentive to cheat. Since the creator and the video site are often paid on total views, we can imagine that many views of videos are, in fact, browsers automatically refreshing (instead of new eyeballs). Even sites that earn on click-thru (instead of impression) are vulnerable.

Eventually advertisers will demand that the sites identify and take action of fraud — just like Google is supposed to be policing click fraud. As an example, we evaluate our Google text ads not on cost per click-thru, but on a “quality formula” of what the visitor did on the site- and whether they visited select “quality pages.” If I see clicks without quality page views, I smell “click fraud.”

There are lot of ways to catch cheaters:

  • Do the views come from the same subscriber?
  • Did views skyrocket in a certain period with a steady instead of random growth rate?
  • Did a user view more videos in a period than possible?
  • Is the ratio of views/subscribers dramatically off norm?
  • Is the ratio of views/comments off norm?
  • Are all of the views (regardless of the username) coming from the same IP address — or a masked IP?

Still, it will take a while for reported views to approximate actual views. Why?

  1. The technology is like radar detectors. When the video site or advertiser (police) finds a new tool, the cheaters (speeders) have already moved on to something new.
  2. The cheaters benefit the video site in the short term. Even cheat views can create revenue. Although eventually this will undermine the site’s credibility with advertisers, it’s a quick fix for cash flow and to satisfy nervous VCs.cheat1.jpg

I have advertised on video sites, and have seen lower than average “click thrus” to my “call to action.” That suggests there may be a problem.
Some sites have identified and corrected click fraud. Revver, for instance, is paid not on views but on the click of an ad frame. Earlier this year I noticed some of my videos exploding. Turns out it was click fraud from someone benefiting from affiliate earnings from my video. Revver reconciled and I watched my earnings go down for a sad period.

Click fraud and viewer cheats is unethical, and arguably illegal if it creates artificial revenue for the creator. Here’s hoping more Redskulled folks identify cheaters and keep ’em honest.

6 Replies to “Video Creators Exposed for Cheating Their Way to Popularity”

  1. arg! i keep getting this error:

    This is a private video. If you have been sent this video, please make sure you accept the sender’s friend request.

    how the heck can i view this video?

  2. hi
    be intersted in this video as i have recently noticed the type of cheating of rating videos by entries of a video competition recently called entertain the nation I identified many of the entries cheating, multiple votes on their onw entries and negative votes on other entries. it was so obvious to spot due to the fact rates skyrocket in a certain period with a steady instead of random growth rate? many of the enties never recieced a vote but with an hour could rise up to a few hundred or even more. usually done late in the evening where some people may not notice. my daughter had an entry and was rated in the top 10, her votes were gradual 30 to 40 votes a day, the votes she had were generated from myself asking friends to vote and pass on the video, and the use of skype of chatting to many people and asking them to vote. majority of votes my daughter had i could account except for periods she would suddenly get a lot of votes but negative as her position would fall dramatically which coincided when alot of activity would placed with another entry who would rocket up the top 10 ratings videos. the whole competition was farce as you could see groups of entrys were voting against each other and then there was a mad dash at the end of the competiton who could bid the fastest on there entry to ensure they would be in the top 10 ratings. The winner would be chosen from the top 10 ratings. I emailed dell computers many times within the competition telling them of my concerns and they did communicate early on in the competition and admitted this was happening and actually withdrew one of entrys but over time they just ignored my emails and allowed this to happen. I have emailed them after the competition stating that i will take this situation further and put it into the public eye dell computers microsoft and intel encourage cheating as they rewarded a cheater by choosing that entry as the winner.

    I would love any advise from yourself to make this more in the public domain where i can shame dell.

    also the winner of last month january video winner was not original but a copy of ideas from another person video. below here is a copy of a email i sent to dell and their response


    after seeing the video, i knew i seen it before, it took me only 5 minutes to find where i seen this video before. this video is a take off from a you tube clip, YouTube – My Animated World

    the idea is not original and he admits this in his blog TSFilms

    · Entries which infringe upon the copyrights, trademarks, contract rights, or any other intellectual property rights of any third person or entity, or which violate any person’s rights of privacy or publicity. This means, for example, that entries must not include:

    this to me is very similar to problems coca cola is facing regarding using a previous film that has been taken from you tube.

    kind regards

    brent naylor

    Hi Brent,

    Thanks very much for your emails and sorry in the delay getting back to you – as I have mentioned previously we cannot guarantee that we are able to respond to all emails.

    February’s winner entered 01/02/2007 12:47:20 and was indeed in the top 10 at 10am on 05/02/07 – as February’s winner he has then been removed from the Top rated clips. We have been investigating cheating on the site and removed one particular video and are monitoring people’s votes and authenticity.

    The winner must have over 30 votes at time of entry and as you mention should be your own. Tristan is very clear that he has taken inspiration from other videos. Stop motion film production is growing in popularity and this video was made by Tristan himself.

    Entrants are able to get inspiration from other sources as do many film producers, songwriters and artists. I hope that you agree that we feel Tristan has entered the spirit of the competition and deserves recognition.

    Unlike the recent publicised events the sponsors of the competition have not produced this video – our winner has and can confirm he made this himself.

    Many thanks and kind regards,

    The Entertain the Nation team

    sorry for the long email, im just distgusted with dell computer.

  3. the link what i gave you seemed not work, just search entertainthenation and it should be listed and it will bring you on to the winning page.

  4. This case is different as the entrant you mention Tristan has entered the competition and presumably he would have agreed to the terms and conditions of the competition. The legal positioning of these sorts of online competitions tends to put the onus of the copyrights on the entrant – not the sponsor. This is an interesting sector of online law – but I’ve seen the winner you’ve referred to and I don’t see the any infringement on intellectual property rights. This guy Tristan admits he has taken inspiration from ‘My Animated world’ (I found it on You Tube) but this wouldn’t count as infringement on intellectual property rights in a court of law. Just in the same way if you film a girl running down a beach you are not infringing on the intellectual property rights of Baywatch!

  5. Hi I also read about the recent problems Coca Cola encountered with property rights and their legal suit and was very interested in the outcome. Coca cola however distributed this as their own for financial gain – i.e. an advert.

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