Inside The YouTube Views Cutbacks: Lot Of Smoke, No Fire
December 28, 2012 at 3:09 PM (PT)
YOUTUBE's sudden cancellation of billions of views on dozens of artist and major label channels -- including a billion from UMG and over 850,000 from SONYBMG -- sparked a media firestorm from a British tabloid and a slew of tech-related blogs. They suggested that the major labels were directly responsible for artificially inflating views of its product to increase ad rates for its YOUTUBE channels.
The truth, however, seems to be far less nefarious and far more mundane.
According to the U.K. GUARDIAN, "GOOGLE, YOUTUBE's owner, has undergone one of its periodic cleansing exercises where it checks viewer counts against its terms of service." Recently, SOCIALBLADE.COM, which tabulates YOUTUBE views, posted evidence of the huge declines in views.
The next thing you know, LONDON's DAILY MAIL posted a screaming headline, "YOUTUBE cancels billions of video views after finding they had been 'faked' - but were hackers working for the music industry?" and techie websites such as THE DAILY DOT ran stories that described YOUTUBE's action as "a drastic winter cleanup that may be aimed at shutting down black hat view count-building techniques employed by a community of rogue view count manipulators on the video-sharing site."
It is true that GOOGLE has a viewcount policy (TOS item 4, Section H) that enables them to pull videos if they believe wiewership numbers have been artificially inflated -- which has incited the ire of some YOUTUBE subscribers who believe their videos were mistakenly pulled -- and there are hackers who charge people money by engaging in "unethical search engine optimization tactics."
But were the majors playing that game in this case?
Back to the GUARDIAN: "UNIVERSAL and SONY have, since 2009, been moving their music videos away from their YOUTUBE channels and over to VEVO. YOUTUBE, meanwhile, thinks that is only right to count channel video views for videos that are still actually present on the channels -- which means that whenever YOUTUBE got round to reviewing the music majors' channels on its site, a massive cut was always going to be in order. The majors prefer VEVO because they own it, and get a better deal from advertising sold there, and with an estimated four billion videos served up monthly there, VEVO is probably doing OK, thank you."
Looks like OLIVER STONE may not make a movie out of this after all...