The Internet’s New “Viral Video Villain”

nalts-is-evil.jpgI’ve been called everything from a sellout to Satan (this video is the best hater video I’ve ever seen, and features me with a sign “Will Video for Souls” as I transform into Lucifer). So it gives me some relief to know that the online-video community has found a new Osama.

His name is Dan Ackerman Greenberg, and his lightening rod was a ‘guest post’ he wrote for TechCrunch that generated nearly 500 comments (mostly negative) and incensed me into writing this post about how to bust cheats.

dan ackerman greenberg: viral video villianI hereby dub him the “Most Despised Guy of Online Video Since ZeFrank,” and have parked to redirect to his profile. My way of pouring oil on the fire that happens to not be burning me.

Favorite comments:

  1. What next, an article on how to make money from stock market scams and flogging dodgy pills?
  2. Idiot. The reason your trickery is necessary that your venal predecessors in advertising have burned their credibility in other media already. And now here you are, a leech on a new medium, feeding off the trust that other people have built up. Pathetic.
  3. I wonder how many of these comments are employees from his office “creating controversy”

At issue was the ethics of Greenberg’s strategies to get promotional videos a viral-video injection. While some techniques were legitimate (careful titling and selection of thumbnails), his piece boasted some bottom-feeder approaches like rigging comments via sock-puppet accounts. The backlash was so severe it prompted Greenberg to convince TechCrunch’s Michael Arrington to give him a “another word” in this post that has already generated about 150 comments.

  • Greenberg says: “The original post was framed quite differently, but after going through the TechCrunch editorial filter, it ended up sounding like a tell-all about our shady business practices.”
  • Arrington responds: “I am not aware of the edits that were made to his original post, but we are reviewing it now to see if any changes altered the original meaning. It is a fairly serious allegation, and we will follow up appropriately.”

(Insert screeching-cat sound effect here).

Meanwhile my less controversial but broadly distributed Advertising Age piece on “Ten Lessons for Marketers Using Viral Video” was either perfectly or horribly timed. I knew I should have advocated Lisa Nova spamming to get views.

29 Replies to “The Internet’s New “Viral Video Villain””

  1. A perfect example of his technique is the Irate Gamer. The studio that created him looked at the most subscribe people on Youtube, made a carbon copy of the Angry Video Game Nerd and then created hundreds of fake, well maintained accounts to tell him how great he is. They made him a partner too, so I’m guessing he also had help from somebody at Youtube. James is not only one of the most viewed of all time working with the same material, he’s still not a partner. Irate Gamer has been feature 3 times, James has never been featured.

    The bottom feeder viral marketers really piss me off sometimes. Your tips are near common sense and a good collection of ideas on how to start if you’re crazy enough to do what it takes to do it right.

  2. Eventually technology takes care of these things I think. It’s kinda like the search engines. Easy to manipulate a few years ago, but now (with a few exceptions) the good stuff rises to the top. And cheating doesn’t work very well.

  3. Interesting how he doesn’t even attempt to defend how his employees use sock accounts to create controversy in the comments of the “viral” videos. Also, if I were one of his professors, I would flunk him out and deny him that master’s degree. What kind of moron writes such an imflammatory article divulging the most craven of his company’s business practices?

  4. Dam. What kind of moran spells “inflamatory” “imflammetory?” I blaim you for the detereoration of my speling skills. Now I just hope I spelled “deterioration” rite.

  5. I’m not really condoning what these guys do as being the right thing to do, but does anyone else want to know where to get a job where all you do all day is surf YouTube watching videos and posting comments?

  6. I heard they were outsourcing those cushy net surf-and-slander jobs to India, Matt, where we can all be manipulated cheaply.That’s what it’s all about: cheap manipulation.

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  9. From my comment on original posting:

    I frankly don’t see the difference between the strategies Dan outlined above and many SEO techniques. The only distinction is that it’s video – something new – rather than Search Optimization for the web.

    It’s very helpful for us all to know how the system can be gamed. These techniques are certainly being used, why jump on the fellow who had the decency to tell us the truth? Several years from now, the naysayers will probably be using some of these strategies just like we all use SEO.

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