Universal and Sony Record Companies Caught Faking Billions of YouTube Views
A few weeks ago I first saw a web ad that ran something close to, “Know who probably buys clothes? People who watch fashion videos… YouTube Ads work.” It struck me as fairly profound, though obvious at the same time, because it rings pretty true. Of course, how true it rings is contingent on people actually watching videos to see those ads — something that’s simply not happening (at least as much as it appears) when views are artificially generated. We’ve covered view inflation and cheating YouTube before — but now, YouTube has accused two of the largest record companies in the world of ‘click fraud,’ and has ‘confiscated’ an unprecedented two billion views as a result. Talk about your parent catching you “clicking yourself” under their roof, huh?
Universal’s official page previously offered a wide selection of music video offerings, but after its recent run-in with the YouTube law, the channel is nearly blank, with just five videos left (none of which are music videos). Universal was the most watched channel on YouTube; even after losing more than a billion hits, it has still raked in more than 5.8 billion views. That titanic total remains intact for now, but the remaining videos on the channel account for fewer than 600,000 of those views. Sony BMG‘s channel is now completely blank, with most of the confiscated views coming away from the pages of several of its artists, many of whom are affiliated with VEVO.
Meanwhile, according to DailyMail, “music industry sources have blamed it on housekeeping related to the migration of their videos across different channels” — and while I’m not exactly sure what that actually means, it sounds some ways off from an outright admittance of guilt, on anyone’s part. Whatever the case may be, YouTube ads constitute an easily accessed and high-profile revenue stream for artists — however negligible the payouts may be (more on this later, hopefully) — for musicians and filmmakers alike. All joking about being caught ‘click-handed’ aside, this is an issue both YouTube and its high profile users will have to address further, and more importantly, reconcile. For everything to continue running hunky dory, advertisers must be able to depend on the numbers YouTube claims as accurate — a sole demographic of clicking robots is likely low on advertisers’ list of viewer groups to target.
The DailyDot has updated its original post to include a somewhat blissfully ignorant and deflective response from UMG:
Universal acknowledged the sudden drop in views, and told the Daily Dot that the Universal Music Group channel, though popular, has been mostly dormant since the company shifted its focus to individual channels hosted on Vevo.
What do you guys think about this? Is this a problem that you would like to see YouTube address? For anyone who makes money on YouTube, what do you think about all of this?
- YouTube strips Universal and Sony of 2 billion fake views — Daily Dot
- YouTube cancels billions of video views after finding they had been ‘faked’ – but were hackers working for the music industry? — DailyMail