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Not All Views Are Equal

I clarify: not all ‘views’ are equal.

I was thinking about what makes a ‘view’ a view on Youtube. I knew that in iTunes, 1 play is counted when a track reaches its end, regardless of whether or not I skipped around (or skipped to near the end) while playing the track. The same standard would surely result in a poor measure of viewership on Youtube, and it would likely have been vetoed for sheer ease of abuse.

The immediate thought was a simple proportion of the video, for example 3/4 or 1/2. However, it was obvious that a fixed time like 0:45 or 1:00 would make more sense. After all, the video wasn’t skipped over in that duration. The next things I thought were, ‘The attention span of the average human has surely declined,’ and that if the standard time was found and published at all there’d probably be work with the time-mark as a basis. Also, would setting a longer requirement be in itself incentive enough for viewers to pay attention for longer periods of time before we made a judgment? (Perhaps a time limit before the like/dislike buttons are activated? Then maybe ‘Friday‘ would have slightly fewer dislikes because you’d have to sit through two minutes of it first.) And how problematic would it be to set that kind of limit with that kind of intention? (‘The chorus only comes in after 2:30 because the industry is too commercial already, and I reject that.’)

Next, I thought if this would apply to longer videos. If I skipped to the next episode of ‘Top Gear’ after five minutes because although the hosts were entertaining as always, I was starting to find the subject boring, should that view be counted? On the other hand, shouldn’t my five minutes of attention have been registered as a view?

So I went to read up a bit and was reminded that there are several places to watch videos (Vimeo, Dailymotion, etc.) and hence standards were different, that I’d also have to consider factors like embedding and whether full repeats of a video from a single visit from a single IP would count (apparently yes on Youtube, if it’s not embedded).

So it seems that most views are indeed unequal.

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