With the glut of new videos appearing on YouTube, companies are finding new and creative ways to get themselves noticed.
YouTube is one of the fastest-growing advertising mediums on the internet, but over the last several years per-ad revenue has declined significantly. Bloomberg reports that in June 2012 the highest paying ads were returning about $9.35 per 1,000 views, versus $6.33 in March 2013. While there are a number of reasons for this, two stand out.
First, the target market for most ads is limited. There simply isn’t enough click traffic being generated by YouTube advertisements, and as a result, fewer advertising companies are interested. More important, the number of production quality videos on YouTube is lacking, with few meeting the standards high-end advertisers typically require.
Second, there is an enormous amount of material uploaded every day, which makes it much harder for the quality videos that do exist to stand out, and dilutes the ad revenue pool. With so much content, people rely on the number of views or likes a particular video has when deciding whether to watch it. Few are willing to sit through an advertisement to see a low-quality or poorly produced video, but with no other metric, the number of views or likes is what they typically use when deciding to watch.
This makes it more difficult for advertising companies to target specific markets, but more important, it has slowed the ability of new publishers to get noticed. When everyone tends to look at what everyone else is looking at, it makes it difficult to convince people to look at anything else. For a new company or person looking to make a name on YouTube, if their video doesn’t go viral, they are unlikely to get noticed. If no one is looking at a group of videos, chances are, no one is going to.
As a result, a new breed of social media companies has appeared that help others to get YouTube views. These services provide actors, businesses, individuals, musicians, and performers with a bit of a kick start in the form of real account views from real people. Since these services are generating real views and clicks through contests and other social media incentives, they aren’t in violation of the YouTube terms of service, as the views are not being machine-generated or otherwise automated.
While some people have objected to this practice, in reality it is no different than a shoe company hiring well-known athletes to wear their brands, or soft drink companies paying musicians to be publicly seen with their products. In the world of advertising, it is fairly standard fare. Google (YouTube’s owner) hasn’t made any complaints or objections to date, as the more new and emerging artists there are creating videos, the more space there will be to put advertisements. Users who watch a video and don’t like it may still click the “dislike” button, meaning that the metric of views and likes remains more or less intact. For now it is a win for everyone involved, at least until something better comes along.