YouTube starts auditing video views

Nel Hedayat explains why YouTube wants to stop people buying views

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The video-sharing website YouTube said it has started to "audit" the number of views a video has received.

The move is aimed at preventing users from artificially inflating view counts which, YouTube said, mislead people about the popularity of a video.

There are concerns that some viewers are using tools like "redirects" or "buying" views to boost their count.

YouTube said it will now "periodically" validate the views on videos and remove the fraudulent ones from the total.

"Some bad actors try to game the system by artificially inflating view counts. They're not just misleading fans about the popularity of a video, they're undermining one of YouTube's most important and unique qualities," Google, which owns YouTube, said in a blogpost.

"While in the past we would scan views for spam immediately after they occurred, starting today we will periodically validate the video's view count."

However, the firm said that it does not expect the new approach to affect "more than a minuscule fraction of videos on YouTube".

Assuring advertisers?

Start Quote

A view should be a metric that reflects genuine interest, not a gauge of how many people mistakenly or unknowingly ended up watching your video”

End Quote YouTube

YouTube is the world's biggest video-sharing website.

With a large number of users watching videos on the site, it has also become an attractive advertising option for firms looking to attract consumers.

Analysts said the site's latest move to clamp down on fraudulent views was also aimed at assuring firms that their campaigns on the portal were reaching a genuine audience.

Photo of YouTube home page YouTube said it wants to improve the accuracy of view counts to maintain the trust of users

"A firm would look at the number of views a video is generating and its popularity when it decides to place its advertisement," Sanjana Chappalli, Asia-Pac head of LEWIS Pulse, a firm specialising in digital marketing, told the BBC.

"But if those views have been fraudulently generated - then it is likely to miss the target audience and have little or no return on investment."

'Maintain trust'

For its part, YouTube has previously warned users against generating views through automated means or by forcing or tricking viewers into watching videos.

According to YouTube these methods could include:

  • Purchasing views from third-party websites
  • Deceptive layouts on third party websites that trick viewers into playing a video when they click unrelated elements on the page
  • Serving pop-unders: a new window that appears under a current window
  • Redirects: when the URL changes and sends the viewer to a new page in the middle of a click

"A view should be a metric that reflects genuine interest, not a gauge of how many people mistakenly or unknowingly ended up watching your video," the website has said.

Ms Chappalli added that the growing popularity of other social media websites such as Facebook meant that YouTube needed to be even more careful with any fraudulent views.

"YouTube is just one of the many options on the social media that companies looking to advertise have," she said.

"As a result, it needs to maintain trust among advertisers for continued revenue growth."

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