Hundreds, if not thousands, of online businesses exist that sell YouTube views. People wanting a shortcut to the top can pay a small fee to get a decent amount of views.
But it’s not just individuals spending a few of dollars here and there. Celebrities and record labels have been caught out spending millions of dollars too.
So what exactly is the benefit of buying views? Is it worth it?
After working on a recent project for a client who has a service that promotes YouTube videos, I thought I’d experiment to see how effective these services are.
Disclaimer: I was told I could come to any conclusion I like by the client, as long as I don’t link to the site.
I made a new video just to test the service and for this experiment.
The video was a quick tutorial on how to set up a very basic website. Around 15 minutes was put into its production. I uploaded it to my personal YouTube account, which had never been used before and didn’t even have a ‘channel’.
To give the video a fair chance, I spent a few minutes writing a proper title and description for SEO value. This way other real people could potentially find the video on top of the views I purchased.
I purchased 2,000 ‘worldwide’ views at 2:15pm at a cost of $10 USD. The website claimed orders started within 6 hours – 24 hours.
After around 30 minutes I had noticed the video already had 104 views. Kudos to them for getting it started so quickly.
The next time I checked the video, 8 hours later, the order had already been completed. My views were at 2,241.
I left it 24 hours to see if anymore views came in, or even any likes, comments or subscribers.
After around 35 hours I had a total of 2,246 views.
At this point I deleted the video because it was on my personal account, and didn’t want people seeing these views I’d bought. Leaving it up for longer would have allowed for more natural views to come in, but that wasn’t the point of this experiement.
Final Results After Buying Views
The video gained a total of:
- 2,246 views
- 0 likes
- 0 comments
- 0 shares
- 0 subscribers
Here are some interesting screenshots of the Analytics:
It’s quite clear from the above that the views are fake. 99% of the views were from external sources, indicating that my video was embedded somewhere and fake traffic was sent to it.
A best case scenario is that it was technically ‘real’ people watching the video, but they were paid to do so. Either some web app that cycles through videos automatically and the user gets paid fractions of a penny for each view. Or the video was shown in some blackhat way, hidden from the user and muted.
Average View Duration
I kept my video short and sweet. Yet the average view duration was only 46 seconds, indicating the viewers were watching for just enough time for a view to be counted as a view and then left.
It’s worth noting you can buy ‘high retention’ views that will rectify this issue. But what is the point if they are all fake anyway?
Higher retention rates will give you more SEO value, and help get your video ranked higher in YouTube & Google search. The question is whether or not it’s enough, or if YouTube can detect these views as being fake and penalising your video.
Are the people (if real people) viewing my video from Lithuania and Brazil even going to understand my video? A 4.2% viewership from the UK is interesting though.
The location of views suggests that proxies are being used. These services also sell geo-targeted views, so they will then only use proxies from the country you are paying for.
I’m now going to go over the pros and cons I gathered from this short experiment.
Although very few, there are a few benefits. Mainly when the views are combined with likes and other metrics.
- Credibility – If ordering small amounts you can build credibility quickly. People are more likely to view your video and interact with it if it already has lots of interaction. You’ll be seen as more reputable in your field if you have thousands of views and popular videos. However, it would be more beneficial to obtain the credibility legitimately.
- SEO – Buying a combination of views, likes, comments etc. could help give your video a better chance at ranking well in search results. Google/YouTube looks at these metrics to determine how to rank videos.
- Legitimacy – There is no guarantee these views are real. They are almost certainly fake.
- Potentially harmful – If YouTube determines your views are fake, they can remove your video and terminate your account.
- Lifespan – Celebrities have had millions of views deleted in the past. You could spend lots of money on views and have them all removed by YouTube.
- Easy to spot – If you are trying to build credibility, you can do the opposite through buying views. It is incredibly easy to see when someone has bought them. Take a look at my video for example, 2,300 views and no likes or comments, no subscribers. How have I got all those views? I bought them and it’s obvious.
- Interfere with real views – These bought views will skew your analytics for your video, making it harder to see what your real statistics are looking like.
- Useless – these people viewing your video won’t buy your product, follow your social media, or interact in anyway.
I’m concluding that the views were ‘fake’, meaning they were totally useless.
Should you buy views for your videos? I’d advise against it.
There’s a lot we won’t ever know. These services claim to send real people, but there is no way to actually confirm this. If we are going off the interaction these views provide, they are fake. It’s rare to get 2,000 people watching your video without liking, disliking or commenting once.
And it’s common sense really, paying $10 to get two thousand real people to sit down and watch you video? Not a chance.
The only benefit to using these services is if you want to ‘fake it till you make it’.
An Alternative That Works
There are legitimate ways to buy views however. The infamous Tai Lopez became a meme after his video would show up as an advert all the time. The result? Over 67,000,000 views.
YouTube Advertising allows you to promote your videos on the platform for a cost, similar to AdWords. However, it isn’t anywhere near the 2,000 views for $10 prices, and if you’re looking at going down the same path as Tai Lopez you’ll need a big bank balance to fund it.
All the views you get from using this method will be 100% legitimate. Tai Lopez didn’t end up bankrupt, he was pretty much unknown before his advertising campaign, and after literally buying views he is famous in the YouTube community and even business. He no doubt made a profit off his campaign, as he was promoting his self help premium content.
If you have any thoughts on this topic, tweet me @joedaniels