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.