18 Nov 2015

The Problem of Fake Views and How to deal with them

Ever since Kurzgesagt created this video;

that called out Facebook for stealing views from other channels and creatives who slaved over the content; there’s a growing concern for views vs. engagement rate on digital video content.

The video tells us the clever but inaccurate ways Facebook determines a view. The result of which are ‘fake views’ and no real engagement. Now this is a problem for all involved because we’re needy, we don’t just want a view, a view isn’t enough, we want engagement. A view doesn’t result in a click through or a purchase.

Facebook, the snake in the grass, is also responsible for this uncomfortable statistic: 725 of 1000 of the most viewed videos on Facebook in the first quarter of this year were stolen from the original creators and amounted to over 17bn views. You might be thinking ‘well that’s alright, it’s good coverage for the creatives’ – but these creatives will get little to no recognition for their work.

As the video goes viral people are looking for other deceits marketers have naively fallen for in recent times. In some kind of covert operation, researchers set up an experiment to identify how many times they were charged by Google for ads that were actually viewed by ‘bots’.

These sneaky bots are responsible for a quarter of all online ad views. What makes this and Google’s deception worse is that, according to Magna Global, digital video spend will increase 40% to £9.8bn this year. So a quarter of that spend is effectively pointless. Bots views don’t translate into any sort of engagement. Sad times. All that money spent on ‘bots’ – and not the nifty ones that can drive your car when you’re too hungover – the ones that do nothing but rack up meaningless views.

This problem of course extends all sectors and brands, but this is a serious deficit for charities in particular. They can’t afford to waste money with no return – bots aren’t going to sign a petition, donate to a cause or promote their content. Regardless of who or what your brand does, it’s vital your content achieves a high engagement rate. From our experience a high engagement rate is achieved through genuinely creative and/or emotionally resonant content that the consumer can appreciate and relate to.

There’s one more obstacle for engagement and that obstacle is ad blocker. As the name clearly suggests, it blocks ‘unwanted’ ads across the web, limiting the audience one might reach and in turn limiting the engagement rate.

There are 198 million active adblock users, which is estimated to be costing publishers £14.5bn, since the introduction of the software. The sheer number of people using ad-blocking software is a not-so-subtle hint to clear up the user experience. No one wants their journey across the realms of the Internet ruined by intrusive adverts that offer them nothing.

YouTube have created their Red service to circumvent the problem of ad blocking software. Users pay a monthly subscription for ad-free videos and a few other extras. This seems like a sensible solution and in fact a good way to make money, but this opportunity isn’t available to everyone. How can everyone else deal with the problem of adblocker? Simply put, they must clear up the user experience; advertisers need to create genuine content that tells a story that the consumer can relate to on some level.

It’s not as bleak as it seems, we promise. Of course it’s all well and good telling people to create engaging content, it’s easier said than done – but we say and do. We specialize in digital video content that people want to interact with; we create content that causes an emotive response within the consumer whether that is humour, on one end of the spectrum, or sadness on the other. We are achieving the kind of engagement rates that make the fake views and those non-existent ‘bots’ irrelevant. No need to take our word for it, have a look at our work and see for yourself.