What’s the fine line between marketing your video and cheating? Comotion Group cofounder Dan Ackerman Greenberg certainly dances along that gray area between marketing and cheating. In this self aggrandizing article on TechCrunch, Greenberg boasts about how he’s getting clients views (thanks to InsideVideo for helping me find this one).
His techniques fall into three areas:
- Basic advice: being careful about tagging, titling and thumbnails.
- Interesting techniques: Greenberg encourages clients to release all videos at once instead of batching them. I agree, and hadn’t considered that there’s really no benefit to pulsing them in intervals. Greenberg claims to have created what he calls “rabbit holes,” where he provides unique tags so that his other videos appear in the “related video” section.
- Cheating: Greenberg encourages “fake titles,” and uses puppet accounts to create controversy in the comments so that the video gets ranked high in “most commented.” These set false expectations and typically piss viewers off.
I’d caution clients when dealing with promoters who use deceptive means to drive views because it points to a lack of ethics. So I’d wonder if the reported views are, in fact, real. It’s fairly easy to create autobots that drive false video views, and most clients aren’t savvy enough to double check reported views (some agencies take liberties with the data they provide). That doesn’t do anything for the product or service, and gives the marketer a false sense of success.
How to Bust “Cheats”
- It’s a good idea to have some ways of tracking impact beyond views. This means looking at conversions (clicks to website after watching video) or brand recall (through Dynamic Logic or similar studies).
- The conversion rate from a video to a site is very low, but if a video spikes to 100,000 views and fewer than a hundred people visit your site I’d suspect foul play. Especially if the URL is in the description tag and there’s a good reason to visit.
- Watch out if your video has excessive views but very few comments. If the ratio of views to comments is atypical then the views may not be real. My videos range from 10-30,000 views and I get 200-300 comments on average. That’s about 1 in 100 making a comment, which is a fairly typical number. Naturally this ratio varies based on the content and where the video is seen (my regular subscribers are more likely to comment than those viewing a video on a homepage).
- There aren’t yet good techniques to determine if a video has been played in its entirety and this is quite important. Most videos aren’t completed, but most online-video sites count a “view” if the viewer watches at least 15 seconds. As a YouTube partner I have “autoplay” on my channel page, which drives significant views but limited interaction.
- If your agency is providing you with feedback or verbatims from the comments (like “that was the best video I’ve ever seen”) you may want to check the username to see when the account was created and what other activity that individual has. A sock puppet account usually has few views, no videos of his own, and a fairly incomplete profile.