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Is Every YouTube Video View Unique?

Posted by Max Moeller on August 14, 2018

As the premiere space for uploading video content, YouTube is one of the most visited websites in the entire world. Because of this, famous content creators may gain millions of views an hour when they upload a new video. However, one has to wonder, how many of those millions of views are unique?

Are some of the views just users refreshing and watching the video again? How many of them are botted, invalid views? Well, it’s tough to say for sure until the YouTube algorithm has gotten a handle on things. However, it’s important to know how the algorithm determines “unique” views from “botted” or “fake” ones.

How The YouTube Algorithm Works

Now, the Youtube Algorithm changes all the time. Google doesn’t like to give away all of its information either. Yet, over time, users have gathered all sorts of data on how views work.

We know for sure that once a video is uploaded, views are never exact. The algorithm will do its best to show only real views, but it accounts for every single one, bot or not, behind closed doors. Then, over time, the view count will start uploading more frequently as the formula validates the hidden analytics.

The common threshold is 301 views.

During this time, you may notice a video’s views freezing up. This is usually done during peak analysis moments and is simply to avoid inflated view counts. The actual views are universally higher than the frozen amount, and that number will reflect once a significant amount are validated.

Otherwise, YouTube is consistently checking and validating views as long as the video keeps gaining them. No matter what video you check out, you’re guaranteed to see some fluctuation if you pay attention. That’s merely the way the algorithm works. At the end of the day, creators can be sure that every legitimate view will be counted.

That’s not to mention that legitimate views are generally those that watch above a certain minute threshold. This amount will change based on the total minute count of a video, but, regardless, a few seconds of watching won’t count as a real view.

How View Bots Work

Even with the algorithm, however, some YouTubers will still pay for botted views to fluctuate their view count. Over time, bot software has learned to game the algorithm. In the early days, fake views would simply be that, a view. Nowadays, bots will vary their watch times, generate comments, and even like/dislike videos.

Accurate YouTube video analytics.

These features will distribute over time. Sometimes over a week or just a couple of days, depending on the service. You can imagine how that would be enticing for a growing channel. That’s not to mention how cheap botting can be. Depending on the count, a service may charge less than ten dollars to boost a video.

So, to answer the question directly: No. Not every YouTube view is unique. However, the algorithm is consistently fighting to ensure validity. It seems that YouTube is reasonably successful in its validation as well since the complaints seem to be few and far between nowadays.

That said, botters will always do their best to combat YouTube’s algorithm, so maybe it’s a good thing Google keeps their inner workings private. As long as Google keeps changing the algorithm, bot makers will always have to continue to fight against it.

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