How Does YouTube Count Views?

How Does YouTube Count Views

So, you want to be YouTube famous. You have the perfect video of a British child having his finger bitten by a British baby. You upload the video to YouTube and it is an instant sensation. However you’re wondering; can you increase your own views by refreshing the page? How does YouTube even count views?

YouTube’s definition of a view is a viewer initiated intentional play of a video. In the early years of YouTube a view count would increase whenever the video was loaded. This was a reasonable system, except it quickly became obvious that anyone - from a teenager sharing a home video to a business sharing a commercial –could simply reload their video over and over to increase their view count artificially. Since YouTube’s homepage displays popularly viewed videos sorted by the number of views, it was easy for anyone to game the system and have their video appear on YouTube’s front page.

YouTube couldn’t have that, so they tweaked the system a little. When the video is below 300 views, the views are counted in the same old-school reloading system. Fewer than 300 views will not affect YouTube’s website. This method of view counting is fine for low view counts. The leeway for abusing the system is small and insignificant.

The View Tipping Point

It is a different story when your video reaches 301 views. Why 301 views? The analytics behind YouTube’s view counting system demonstrates that any views higher than 300 could affect the quality of YouTube by crowding the homepage with artificially popular videos.

A view count freezing at 301 views is no glitch. Ted Hamilton, Product Manager for YouTube Analytics, explains that the YouTube database is set up to freeze the view count at 301 until YouTube employees can manually verify whether or not the views have been obtained legitimately.

More views can be obtained using automated computer processes (known as ‘bots’) that inflate the view count, or anyone refreshing a video hundreds of times, giving credit to videos that otherwise wouldn’t receive attention. If you want to count the celebrities that make an appearance in Taylor Swift’s Bad Blood music video, you don’t want to go through several artificially popular videos to find it.

YouTube analysts determine where the views are coming from. If a majority of views are coming from the same few computers, they are removed.

Don’t panic when your views freeze, the views are still counted and the number of likes and dislikes is not affected. Your video can still be viewed and monetized despite the view count freeze. Once your view count has been verified, the actual number of views is released and the view count will begin increasing again. You are now 301 views closer to being YouTube famous.

Views Exceeding 301

The rules change again once your video surpasses 301 views. There is a new algorithm to detect and eliminate fraudulent views. The old refreshing the page method will no longer work. The new algorithm automatically detects and eliminates views from malware and spambots. YouTube’s exact security measures are classified. If YouTube’s security was public, there would likely be bots and viruses developed to hack into it.

It is unclear how YouTube actually audits the view count of videos with over 301 views. If your view count was being tracked from day to day you would potentially notice a fluctuation or freezing of your view count, this could indicate that your views are being validated. If you acquired views fairly, then you have nothing to worry about. However if you used a spambot, malware virus, or bought views from a third party, your views will be deleted and so could your video.

Some signs of a fraudulent view are:

  • The video is reloaded repeatedly
  • The views appear to come from malware viruses
  • The views come from users known to use spambots on their account
  • The video is set to auto-play embedded on a website

Breaking Rules, Buying Views

There are many ways to increase view count, buying views is one method. YouTube views can be purchased through a third party website. Buying views can be a tempting advertising strategy by companies wishing to promote their video; however YouTube specifically states that purchasing views is prohibited on their policy center page. If YouTube finds fraudulent use on its website it has the authority to remove videos.

The Harm in Fraudulent Views

The biggest problem with fraudulent views is how they affect a YouTube advertisement. YouTube ads pay per impression and click. If a YouTube ad is featured before a fraudulent video it complicates the relationship between YouTube and the company being advertised.

Fraudulent views devalue advertisements. YouTube, the advertiser, and the owner of the video following the advertisement all make less money because more legitimate views are required to receive the clicks necessary to payout. It is even worse when people have paid a third party website to gain more viewers because it deflates the value of the ads.

Part of the reason fraudulent views are so widespread on YouTube is because video creators know that the more views they obtain, the more brand recognition they will receive. YouTube’s popularity has continued to escalate over the past 5 years, providing an ideal environment for businesses to advertise on YouTube and gain recognition.

YouTube Popularity Forever Increasing

It is no surprise that YouTube’s numbers continue to skyrocket. In 2014, YouTube racked in an estimated 4 billion in revenue, received 4 billion video views per day, and 6 billion hours of videos watched per month. In 2015, YouTube revenues reached 1.51 billion US dollars, up from 0.81 billion in 2013. More videos are uploaded to YouTube every 60 days than the 3 major US television networks produced in the previous 60 years. This is wonderful for fans of funny cat videos, as well as Google shareholders.

Frequency US Users Visit YouTube

Business Recognition Through YouTube

Several small businesses and individuals have successfully used YouTube as a platform to gain clientele and fan recognition. The YouTube show sensation, Epic Meal Time , which demonstrates host Harley Morenstein creating several high-calorie, bacon-filled, and Jack Daniels drowned ‘epic’ meals, gained so much popularity that the cast members now have their own television show known as “Epic Meal Show”. YouTube’s system of ranking videos by popularity moves interesting and popular videos up to the top of the front page, giving businesses and individuals the opportunity to grow and be discovered.

Smaller to medium sized businesses who are interested in integrating social media platforms often turn to YouTube to advertise their company. Why shouldn’t they, especially when YouTube has a free advertising giveaway of 50 million dollars for new video programs. Such a giveaway is implemented specifically to allow small to medium sized businesses gain recognition.

Having a YouTube advertisement is an efficient strategy for businesses that want to market but are constrained by a tight budget. For example, more than 2 billion video views per week are monetized; the total number of advertisers using YouTube has increased 10-fold; and YouTube mobile gets over 100 million views a day. Exposure to such a wide audience could greatly enhance a business’s recognition.

More and more businesses are using YouTube as a gateway to obtain more brand recognition. For the first time, marketers spent more to advertise on YouTube than they did to advertise on broadcast television in 2013. US marketers spent $2.8 billion on YouTube advertisements in 2013. The trend of businesses advertising on YouTube is increasing in popularity just as much as the website itself.

Now that you understand how YouTube counts views, how you shouldn’t buy views from a third party source, and the colossal audience YouTube reaches, you can upload your British child being bitten by a British baby, sit back, and rack in the views.

How to Hit it Big on Youtube Whitepaper


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  1. Funkynorm said:

    Does it matter how you view the video as to whether it is counted or not? for example if you view the video on your computer then it would be counted, but if you watch it via a smart phone or iPad or PS3 these views are not counted? I don’t know if this is true but I have heard that this is the case and I haven’t come across anyone that can confirm this!

  2. Is this why there are always 305 ish views on a new viral or otherwise extremely popular video?

  3. It seems that their counter doesnt report views in real time, at least not for me. sometimes, i have noticed video counts not increasing, then all of the suddent, the count drastically changes. I wonder how many legitimate views are not being counted…

  4. Youtube video count is inaccurate! I’m actually following the count along with family and friends… there are clearly discrepancies. Just curious, does youtube promote its own videos?

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  6. Youtube views count is always different.i don’t know exactly how they count the views for video.There are so many sites in the web, which can easily increase the YouTube views in one day.

  7. Portobellotent said:

    I watch YouTube on ipad and have discovered that my VIEWS are not counted, ( even months later!)
    “LIKES” are counted !
    Why is this?
    Any reason ?
    Please advise

  8. I have a question. If I put the same video 100 times on a playlist and i let the playlist on repeat, will the views count?
    Let me know as soon as possible.

  9. Monkey D. Maude said:

    I don’t think it’s possible to have the same video twice in the same playlist. However, I do think views are counted when playing in a playlist so you should select 2 or 3 vids, put them in a playlist and let the playlist running. 🙂

  10. My guess is that YT records your IP address only allows 1 count per user – forever. So even if you go in YT everyday & watch the same video over & over, it won’t count it still only counts the very first time you watched it. The only way around it is if you uploaded it or go to a different pc (library, friend’s, etc.)

  11. I have over 1000 views for one of my music playlists. I have it playing a lot when I’m on the computer. I wonder if it’s just me or are other people adding to the view count.

  12. morris branch said:

    Its important now because YouTube views are counted towards the music charts Billboard hot 100 and corresponding charts..sales and airplay and you tube views are figured into chart positioning..

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  15. Great to know that the analytics can give you an accurate number on whether the views are fake or real. Thnx for this. Had no idea.

  16. Hi there, its nice post on thhe topic of media print, we all be familiar with media
    is a enormous source of facts.

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