Learn What Counts As A View On YouTube

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The number of views a video has on YouTube is a key metric that indicates the success it has obtained. YouTube deliberately doesn’t share too much information about what they qualify as a view on the platform because they are aware that people will try to do just enough to merely meet those requirements using manipulative tricks and hacks.

I’ve done extensive research on the topic, and have managed to dig out useful information. Bear with me until the end of this article and your knowledge of what counts as a view will forever be changed.

History of the YouTube view algorithm

YouTube is 13 years old today. The video sharing platform dates back to 2005 when technology was yet to boom and reach its climax. Back then, without the tricks and hacks, it was a much simpler time to understand what counted as a view on YouTube. Without delving too much into details, let’s just reminisce in layman’s terms what you need to know in order to understand how YouTube developed its view counting system:

  • In the beginning: When YouTube started out, the platform used a very simple method and counted views based simply on how many times the video had been loaded. This approach left a lot of room for manipulation, as you only had to replay the video to boost its view count. At the time, YouTube did very little to differentiate the quality of the views and distinguish high-retention from low-retention views.
  • The 301 views freeze: Up until 2015, YouTube used to freeze the view count of a freshly published video at 301 views. The YouTube database was set to freeze views at 301 until YouTube employees could manually verify the credibility of the views. That entire methodology is now replaced with a new and more elaborate system.

  • A more scrutinized approach: As we said before, YouTube doesn’t share its secret recipe when it comes to counting views, but we know this much – The YouTube algorithm has gotten stricter when it comes to accepting views on the platform. YouTube wants to be sure that the views coming to your video are organic, therefore during the first couple of hours after publishing, your video is being monitored and the credibility of the views is being examined.

Now, instead of freezing the view count at 301 to determine the validity of the views, YouTube has more people monitoring the views at all times. Once those first initial hours pass and YouTube confirms that the views are legitimate, the view counter will start to update more frequently. Consequently, if YouTube deems that there’s something fishy going on with your video, it may temporarily freeze the view count and discard low-quality views.

YouTube vs. Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter

YouTube treats a view in its own unique way. Platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are much more liberal when it comes to accepting views on their platforms, but not YouTube. Truth be told, nobody blames YouTube for setting more strict requirements because, after all, this is the biggest and most renowned video sharing platform. Here is how different platforms count views:

  • Facebook: For a click to be counted as a view on Facebook, the video must be run for at least three seconds, or for 97% of its total length if it’s shorter than three seconds. The viewer doesn’t even need to engage with the video or enable audio, as Facebook accepts any view longer than three seconds even with autoplay.
  • Instagram: Instagram and Facebook both don’t display the unique viewers, only the total number of views, and they both use the three-second rule. Keep in mind that Instagram doesn’t include video loops, and you also won’t be able to see the number of views for videos shared as a part of a post with multiple photos and videos.
  • Twitter: Twitter counts video views only when the video is 100% in view on the user’s device for at least three seconds. They also count views from autoplay mode, but the 100% view on the user’s device is a must.

Compared to these platforms, YouTube has set the bar pretty high when it comes to accepting video views. So, don’t be surprised when you see that a video is getting more views on Facebook than on YouTube as there are a lot of spam views and that people sometimes accidentally watch three-seconds of the video without intending to.

What does count as a view on YouTube then?

Okay, so we know now how Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook count views, but what about YouTube? The answer to that is concisely presented by YouTube:

  • The original definition:youtube logo A view is a viewer-initiated intended play of a YouTube video that’s been de-spammed. A view isn’t an autoplay, scripted play, spam play or playback. Views should only be a result of pure viewer choice to watch a video, not as a result of a transaction through incentivized views.
  • The 30 second rule: Every view longer than 30 seconds is counted and accepted as a legitimate view on YouTube. YouTube has set some restrictions as to what counts as a view for legitimate reasons. They don’t want spam or artificially-boosted videos to go viral.
  • Replays count until a certain point: YouTube also knows that there are a lot of videos, like songs or funny clips, that you would like to rewatch, that’s why they admit those replays as views until a certain point. Repeated views will count up to 3-5 times. After that, YouTube won’t count any views from the same device as they try to prevent view spam.

Basically, every impression that lasts longer than 30-seconds will be monitored, and if deemed credible, will be admitted as a view.

What about shorter videos, you ask?

Videos shorter than 30 seconds can’t be monetized through AdSense. That’s one of the reasons why YouTube has set the bar at 30 seconds. For videos shorter than 30 seconds, YouTube counts all the views that aren’t computer-programmed.

Still, at times YouTube may slow down and sometimes freeze and adjust the view count in order to clear and discard low-quality playbacks and spam views.

Understand what makes a bad view

YouTube is always on the lookout for bot or computer-programmed views. They know that “Bad Views,” as they call them, can directly impact the reputation of the platform. Most of the bad views are not real. They are computer programmed bot views. Signs for a fraudulent view are that the:

  • Video is reloaded repeatedly
  • Views appear to come from malware viruses
  • Views come from accounts known to use bots
  • Video is set to auto-play embedded on a website

YouTube tries to detect bad views by following the patterns of their viewing history. If they notice that an account is jumping from video to video without any recognizable pattern, or by using the recommended videos system, and they watch all of them exactly 35-seconds, that’s a definite red flag and YouTube won’t count that as a view.

Tips on buying YouTube views

There are a lot of benefits that come from buying YouTube views, when it comes to buying YouTube views there is a set of guidelines that you should be familiar with. There’s a lot to learn about the practice of buying YouTube views, but I’ll try to stick to the fundamentals here:

  • High-quality versus low-quality providers: There are those providers who offer high-quality, YouTube-accepted views, and there are those who generate bot views at a low price trying to tempt users to buy from them. You always want to buy YouTube views from high-quality providers.
  • 100% safe and legal: Don’t let anyone fool you – the practice of buying YouTube views is safe and in total compliance with YouTube’s terms of use. There is nothing wrong with buying YouTube views, as long as you buy from credible and reliable providers that comply with YouTube’s terms and conditions.
  • Look for the word organic: You should always collaborate only with those providers that use organic methods to deliver authentic views. Low-quality providers offer low-quality views that won’t make it on YouTube, high-quality providers offer organic views that last on the platform.
  • Read review sites: There are certain websites, such as this one, that fully analyze YouTube views providers. We have done the research so you don’t have to do it yourself, and we have mapped out the good from the bad providers.

Our website has reviewed and analyzed the top providers in the industry in a comprehensive manner. Read our reviews of the top YouTube views providers and make a well-informed decision about purchasing high-quality and organic YouTube views.

Date: December 7, 2018 / Categories: Explainer, Statistics, View Tactics, / Author: Rich Drees


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