How to Fake a Viral Video

Julian Cole is digital strategy director at BBH. Follow him on Twitter @juliancole. Use the discount code “DIGIDAY” for $5 off his Skillshare course on creating a great Social Media Strategy.  

Sometimes you will see a piece of branded content piece on YouTube and be bewildered to how they got so many views on such an average piece of content.

This is usually thanks to an online seeding campaign running in the background. There is a growing demand for this activity, having an insurance policy of views on a brand’s viral video that they have spent a tonne of money helps everyone involved sleep easier at night.

With the stakes raised, online seeding has stepped up as well. It is no longer the intern sitting on forums talking about how awesome your brand is, it now all works on paid media and getting the cheapest cost per view possible. But as you might expect you get what you pay for.

This cheapest media occurs on third-tier advertising networks. They sell you a run of network/blind ad network buy made up of a couple of sites that you may have heard of and a large number of high trafficked websites that struggle to sell inventory – social gaming sites/apps, softcore porn, illegal streaming sites. The ways that these views are achieved are sometimes very questionable, from pop-up windows, pop-unders to URL redirects. You can usually pay somewhere between two cents and 15 cents per view for this type of advertising.

If you are willing to pay a little bit more money there are more legitimate ways to drive traffic. The social ads route is quite popular. The advertising unit of choice in this area is definitely StumbleUpon, which offers a five cent per view of your page/video. However you do not always get all these people. Other sources include Facebook, Buzzfeed, YouTube Trueviews and Reddit advertising.

If you are going to do video seeding it is important to be upfront to the client about what road you are going to be taking. Otherwise you are going to be in for some headaches when it comes to reporting the results.

Image via Shutterstock