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Avril Ascends, But YouTube Withholds Her Crown

YouTube views of Avril Lavigne’s Girlfriend appear to have surpassed Judson’s Laipply’s Evolution of Dance last night, after her fans mounted a campaign to send the long-running No. 2 video of all time on the site to the top spot. But Girlfriend is still in second place on YouTube’s most-viewed page, despite displaying a view count of 92,717,658 to Evolution‘s 92,706,728. The leading Lavigne fan site has already declared victory, though it’s been taken down by heavy traffic. YouTube says it’s looking into the leaderboard issue.

Meanwhile, Lavigne’s management is saying she’s made $2 million from her YouTube plays. As of this morning, her three official videos on the site — Girlfriend, When You’re Gone, and a Girlfriend remix — have a collective 137.9 million views. So if my math’s right, that works out to a $14.50 CPM split. Not too shabby. But for some reason Laipply is not a YouTube partner, so it seems he has to rely on dancing engagements and sponsorships from places like Sonos to pay the bills.

OK, and the story takes another twist with the operator of Avril Bandaids, the aforementioned fan site that ran an auto-refreshing autoplay page last month for Girlfriend — which was originally posted February 27, 2007 — in an attempt to surpass Evolution. Bandaids owner “Sharifa” wrote yesterday that the auto-refresh ploy was just a publicity stunt, in a passionate manifesto that you may not be able to see if the site’s still down.

Basically, Sharifa admits dedicated Avril fans wouldn’t create enough views to bring the video to the top spot because YouTube allegedly only allows 200 views per IP address. But the Lavigne fans’ plot was reported all over the place (including here), prompting people all over the world to view the video. And the result, she says (I imagine with a cackle), is Lavigne getting her rightful place at the top of YouTube.

All along, I knew that YouTube capped the number of views added to a video at 200 per IP address per day. As such, the only way to make Girlfriend the most watched video on YouTube the fast way was to increase our reach, not our views per person. And the best way to do that was to use viral marketing to tap into traditional news sources. So our members went about inflating the count on the YouTube Viewer and spreading the link around the net.

In the mean time, the real end game of the campaign was unfolding nicely. As media outlets around the world began accusing Bandaids of cheating Avril’s way into the record books, they drove thousands upon thousands of curious folks to watch Avril Lavigne’s Girlfriend video on YouTube (yes, even you Perez). This resulted in a much larger boost to Avril’s view count than Bandaids could ever have generated on its own.

Don’t believe me? When the Viewer launched on June 19th, Girlfriend had amassed 88.0 million views on its own merits. On June 24th when the viewer was retired, Girlfriend had 88.9 million views – an increase largely on pace with what Girlfriend had been steadily gaining in the past few months. At best, Bandaids’ YouTube Viewer added under 100,000 (legitimate, as per YouTube’s terms of service) views to Girlfriend’s total view count. The only thing we cheated was hundreds of reporters into doing our promo for us.

At current count, Girlfriend is 732,892 views away from becoming the most watched video of all time on YouTube. And when it does clinch first place, it won’t be because of Bandaids, it will be because Avril Lavigne wrote an irresistible song and recorded a damn good video for it. We’re just here to help Avril get the publicity she deserves.

It’s not entirely clear that Sharifa’s account is borne out by the numbers, but it does seem that Girlfriend has been hitting new heights in the past month. TubeMogul provided us with a chart of Girlfriend vs. Evolution dating back to March:

Evolution is embedded all over the Internet, and has a certain notoriety attached to holding onto the crown for so long. It also, as Chris noted this week, seems to be used in every demo of YouTube on other platforms — something that happens with increasing frequency these days. Girlfriend, meanwhile, doesn’t allow embeds. We’d speculated that YouTube was cracking down on autoplaying videos to combat efforts like Sharifa’s, but it’s not clear that’s the case yet.

Anyways, surely we could be could all be off be curing AIDS or something, but it is what it is.

16 Responses to “Avril Ascends, But YouTube Withholds Her Crown”

  1. Hi!

    Just wanted to update a part of your article related to how Avril is (apparently) getting that $2 million check from Youtube…

    Wired Magazine eventually got in touch with Terry McBride (avril’s management) who was quoted as having claimed that figure, and it doesn’t come from ads on her official Youtube video pages, but another method that most are probably unaware of…

    According to Terry, Youtube has an agreement to pay the owners of IP (‘Intellectual Property’ I think that means) a certain amount of money when fans use their videos in their own videos. For instance I guess if someone did a video slideshow of Avril Lavigne pictures with the song “Girlfriend” playing in the background, or a bunch of kids acting out the Girlfriend video (with the actual song in the BG), etc.

    In the Wiredarticle hersays:
    “My comments came during the Music Tank seminar and the concept of artists creating content that fans can then mashup up with their own creativity and share on Youtube.

    To date Avril’s songs have been used over 200 million times on Youtube with a substantial percentage being fan generated. Youtube has deals in place with the stakeholders of the IP (Publishers, Labels, Songwriting societies) that sees a share on a pro-rata basis in the advertising income created from these social activities. In time this will generate a few million dollars in income for all collectively involved…”

    Full article here:


  2. We can decorate or degrade the story all we want, but throught this entire time, there has always been a constant – Truth and facts. Facts like Avril’s video getting close enough to strike in the 1st place BEFORE any hype or gossip hit the media. Facts like the announcement alerting EOD fans that we intended to take over the top spot. Facts like ALL videos have a ‘view’ counter that works exactly the same way.

    And does anyone question the logic? Like, why would Sharifa publically announce the existance of a cheat? How is it that out of the increasing millions of videos on youtube, Avril’s fans suddenly come up with a working cheat that nobody else had? And how is it that out of all the millions of user accounts, people seem to imply that Avril’s fans are the only one’s who would cheat if they could ?

    It seems logical to me that if Avril’s fans would try to increase that traffic counter by any means imaginable, they would NOT be the first to try, nor would they be the only ones. However, Avril’s target audience includes younger ages who have more time to sit and defend her image against the tireless offenders who go add views to Girlfriend’s counter to insult her. This only stirs up conversations that multiply the view counter hits with reloads to update the comments so they can continue the arguing back and forth. That’s 1 user adding to the competitor’s view count, mulitplied by the number of users who respond.

    If you dont see the pattern, I’ll spell it out for you. Avril Lavigne is a primary target for lies, rumors, and insults, so most gossip about her will be presented in the worst light. So instead of a report like ‘Bandaids attempts publicity stunt’ they would rather target Avril and discredit her popularity, and instead of Avril haters saying, “Ha ha – you got caught trying to cheat youtube!” they believe we actually DID cheat. Funny thing is, so many Avril haters are complaining about how many views she has, but are the main instigater of the increased traffic.

  3. Kardemee

    I have read that those supporting the Evolution of Dance video have resorted to trying to do the same thing with browser plugins, so shouldn’t the Evolution of dance video be under scrutiny too? Perhaps a better solution would be to have YouTube find a better way to limit all false views for everyone.
    Furthermore, the Evolution of Dance video has been out for a much longer period of time than Avril’s Girlfriend video and her video has ascended at a much faster rate than the Evolution of Dance video in a much shorter period of time anyway, and Avril’s video has been about to overtake the top spot for months without the need of any supposed auto refresh methods needed anyway, it really was only a matter of time before Avril’s Girlfriend video took the top spot anyway, which is pretty amazing when you think about it because Avril’s video is not allowed to be embedded all over the internet as the Evolution of Dance video currently allowed to be. It is an inevitable fact that the Evolution of Dance video’s top spot would be over taken by Avril’s Girlfriend video in short period of time anyway. So why are you all so upset over the mathematics of probability playing out here?

  4. while i’m sure no one will come out to officially dispute the $2M number, it’s absolute BS.

    First off Youtube’s charging a $15CPM for banner + overlay. Even if the numbers were right, she’s not taking home 99% of the ad revenue.

    Next is that while her fans can spike the view count through an embedded player scheme, none of that is generating ad revenue. There are no ads on embedded videos and no advertiser is going to pay for ad-free impressions.

    So if 100MM of her views came on an external site and the other 30MM actually have ads displayed, she’s only getting paid for that 30MM.

  5. Ryan White

    I’m surprised to hear that YouTube is paying her such a high CPM. At a $20 CPM to advertisers, YouTube would have to be selling at least 75% of the ad inventory and pay her at least 75% of the revenue (of course, they can’t do both at the same time). Both numbers seem improbable.