The Carmen Trutanich for DA campaign paid marketing firms to rustle up YouTube views for his campaign videos, then sent out a press release crowing about how the videos' popularity showed the city attorney had broad support, the LA Times reports. Campaign consultant John Shallman disputes just how many of the views were purchased. But two different marketing companies that create the illusion of viral popularity on the web said they were paid to generate as many as 400,000 views. And more apparently: "YouTube recently suspended the accounts of most of the users who left positive comments on the Trutanich videos, citing violations of its policy against commercially deceptive content," says the Times story. Forty-six suspicious commenters were suspended.
When slickly produced videos from big-brand companies go viral, racking up millions of views, it's usually not an accident, said industry officials and observers.
"Somebody gave that a kick-start," said Stuart Schwartzapfel of Big Fuel, which helps companies develop social media strategies. "If I leave it to chance, chances are I won't get a return on my investment."
Companies looking to buy views for their movie trailers, car commercials or music videos can pay a fixed fee for these viral boosters to deliver a guaranteed audience — say a million views — or they can pay per view. Industry insiders privately said views can cost pennies apiece to advertisers less concerned with whom their videos are reaching, or up to $2 per view for firms looking to hit their demographic sweet spots.
This is funny: "To test how easy it is to buy views, The Times paid two online sites a total of $103 to generate views for a nearly two-minute video of paint drying. In eight days, the clip drew 60,000 views."
By the way, a search on YouTube today for "Carmen Trutanich," "Trutanich" or "Tru Stories" doesn't find any high-traffic Trutanich videos. The versions that are posted on the Trutanich website are hosted as private videos at Vimeo. The YouTube video I linked to when Trutanich announced his candidacy is also now listed as private.