YouTube Ethics & Botting

Just last week, I watched a live stream of a tubefilter meet-up and the question that seemed to generate the most discussion is whether buying views was considered ethical. After meeting with a few YouTubers today, many talked about the instances of individuals “botting” their videos. I find the two aforementioned subjects very fascinating and felt compelled to write a post about it. Please be advised that this is going to be a pretty in-depth post designed to drive discussion. So at the end of this post, I urge you all to ask questions and give your thoughts. Also, I am in no way an expert in this industry so my apologies if this post is not optimally structured. So lets start shall we?

Is it ever Ok to buy views?

I find this subject especially interesting being an affiliate marketer in the past. For a few campaigns I worked on, some advertisers allowed something called “incentivized traffic” to be driven to their affiliate links. Just to clarify, incentivized traffic in the Internet marketing sphere is exactly what it sounds like- you pay an external source (or create one of your own) that incentivizes users to check out your target link. If you are an active user on the Internet, odds are, you have fallen into a incentivized traffic scheme at least once or twice. What is a good example? Have you ever stumbled upon a page offering you a “free iPad,” if you sign up using your credit card? Yeah, it is all coming to you now isn’t it? While I am not an online video advertising guru. One thing I can be certain of is that in in the end, online advertisers are all seeking to do the same thing- drive traffic to their site and get conversions. So from a marketing standpoint, I feel that buying views to help promote a brand of product is OK if it contains the following factors:

  • The advertiser is fully aware that the publisher (a company or single entity driving the traffic) will be driving incentivized traffic.
  • The publishers offers to drive incentivized traffic using ethical ways (the definition of  “ethical way” to drive incentivized traffic is a whole other subject in itself, and one I might cover in the future).

In essence, every advertiser technically “buys views”. Doesn’t the act of an advertiser paying a YouTuber to do a sponsor video already constitute the act of buying traffic? You are incentivizing the YouTuber to direct all their traffic to your brand. So what makes different than buy a targeted email list to view my video? What makes it so different if I use ANY external source for incentivized targeted traffic?

To give it to you straight, the reason there is even an issue with advertisers and buying views in the first place, is because they are simply focused on the wrong things when it comes to online advertising. They’ll hire external companies or single entities simple because they see that they have “driven *insert large number* amount of views*. This is absolutely W-R-O-N-G! The numbers you pay attention to (at least in my opinion) should not be the amount of views they can get you, it is the amount of CONVERSIONS they can give you (Read more at Misconceptions of Social Media).


When is is not OK to buy views?

If you are an avid YouTube viewer with impeccable observation skills like myself, you’ll sometimes come across certain numbers where the viewership doesn’t necessarily match the like/dislikes and comments. With recent outlets educating viewers on the idea of “botting” videos, the YouTube audience is starting to become aware that this process is possible. With that being said, if you are trying to build your brand as an artists online, I would stick with the organic route as much as possible. I feel that the possible resulting bad PR you’ll get is not worth it, quite frankly. In my experience, the Internet audience is pretty unforgiving. Instead of finding out ways to “cheat” the system, honing your craft as an artist while using ethical ways to drive viewers will benefit you better in the long run.


The above screen shot is a video of David Choi, a popular YouTube musician

Now lets compare this with:

A video I found online. Notice the relatively large difference in the like/dislikes ratio even with closely similar view counts?

Well, there you have it! Those are my thoughts in regards to buying views on YouTube. Now, I would like to hear your guy’s opinion? How do you feel about outside companies using incentivized traffic for their clients? How do you feel about artists using services to increase their view numbers with hopes of going to the front page for more organic exposure?

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