Many digital networks, agencies, and press outlets (yes, including us) use view counts as a way to determine the popularity and reach of YouTube videos. Views certainly have their place in the world of YouTube analytics, but they’re also extremely deceptive, and ad agency Solve Ideas wants to make sure we know that. Solve managed to score more than 100,000 views on a blank video with no images and no sound after distributing it as a pre-roll YouTube ad.
Solve’s video features nothing but empty white space for four minutes. It was posted to the agency’s YouTube channel, which has no subscribers, but Solve promoted it by spending $1,400 to buy 227,000 impressions across YouTube. More than half of the viewers who saw the ad chose to skip it before watching 30 seconds of it, and as a result, their impressions were not tracked on the video’s view counter. More than 100,000 of the video’s impressions, however, did cross the 30-second threshold, and as a result, “The Blank Video Project” has a very healthy view count, despite its lack of distinguishing characteristics.
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$1,400 is a lot to spend to prove a point, but Solve’s experiment returned some intriguing results. As Co.Create notes, 22,000 people watched the entire four-minute ad, likely because they opened a YouTube video, switched to another tab or window, and then forgot to come back to skip the ensuing pre-roll. The experiment also cost Solve just 1.4 cents per view, a rate that demonstrates just how affordable YouTube advertising can be.
We’ll give Solve plenty of credit for providing a concrete example of the deceptiveness of YouTube views. At the same time, their experiment could’ve been better. They had a blank space, and they didn’t even write your name.