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8 Billion and Counting? The Real Deal with X’s Video View Numbers

Ladies and gentlemen, grab your popcorn, because X (formerly Twitter) is back with some eye-popping claims about its video content. They’re shouting from the rooftops that they’re racking up 8 billion video views per day. Yep, you heard that right—8 billion, with a ‘B’. And just to spice things up, they’re flaunting a 35% increase year-over-year. But before you start planning a ticker-tape parade, let’s break down what’s really going on here.

So, what’s the fine print behind these astronomical numbers? According to the X Help Center, a video view is clocked when a user watches for at least two seconds with at least 50% of the video player in view. Autoplay videos? Yep, those count too. So, if you scroll past a video and it lingers on your screen for a couple of seconds, congrats, you’ve just contributed to that 8 billion. It’s like giving out gold medals for just stepping onto the track.

X is on a mission to reinvent itself as the go-to platform for video content, rolling out new features faster than you can say “rebrand.” They’ve launched video spaces on iOS, integrated audio-video calls, and are hinting at an X CTV app and a dedicated video tab. But don’t hold your breath—no dates have been pinned down. It’s almost like they’re promising you a state-of-the-art jetpack, but all you get is a paper airplane. CEO Linda Yaccarino has been preaching the “video first” gospel since March, but this move signals a seismic shift from a platform built for chit-chat to one trying to be a multimedia powerhouse.

Here’s where it gets even juicier. The views metric currently on display isn’t actually video views; it’s tweet views. This metric counts how many times a tweet appears in someone’s timeline, regardless of whether anyone engages with it. It’s like counting every time someone glances at a billboard from their car window. Real video views, which used to be visible, have been swapped out for impressions. This sneaky little switch means that while X is crowing about its “views,” they’re really just talking about impressions—basically, digital hot air.

Remember the Tucker Carlson and Donald Trump interview that supposedly racked up 236 million views in 24 hours? If we use the old Twitter metric, the real number is closer to 4.8 million. It’s the digital equivalent of inflating a kiddie pool to Olympic swimming pool proportions. This puffery extends to their claim of 8 billion daily views, a number that would require a quantum leap from their previous stats.

Now, let’s dive into the murky waters of fake traffic. A report from cybersecurity firm CHEQ found that a staggering 75.85% of traffic from X to its advertisers’ websites was fake during the Super Bowl weekend. That’s right, three out of four clicks were from bots or fake users. It’s like buying a ticket to the hottest concert of the year, only to find out the crowd is made up of cardboard cutouts. This isn’t just a budget-buster; it’s a campaign optimizer’s worst nightmare. Paying for bot traffic means skewed analytics and wasted ad spend.

To top it all off, X’s decision to obscure real video view counts in favor of impressions is a classic bait-and-switch. They’re creating an illusion of massive engagement, while in reality, users are just scrolling past these videos. It’s a masterclass in digital smoke and mirrors.

If we take a step back, it’s clear that X is desperately trying to stay relevant in a social media landscape dominated by video content. Platforms like YouTube and TikTok are eating their lunch, and even Instagram is getting a bigger slice of the pie. According to Sprinklr, YouTube logs over a billion hours of video views daily, while TikTok boasts over a billion active users with an average user spending 52 minutes per day on the app. Meanwhile, X is scrambling to keep up, throwing out big numbers like confetti and hoping no one notices the sleight of hand.

Let’s also talk about the elephant in the room—user trust. By swapping out genuine metrics for inflated ones, X risks alienating its user base and advertisers alike. It’s like telling your date you drive a Ferrari, only for them to find out it’s a rented Prius. The long-term damage to credibility could be significant.

Eilon Zarmon, CEO and cofounder of AdGPT and an agency boss for over 30 years, had some thoughts about this and told us, “Elon Musk is definitely a colorful character, but in the end, advertisers will analyze X with business considerations in mind: amount of users, the nature of the conversation on the platform, ROI, and what their brand will gain if they advertise there. The reason advertisers left the platform is not because of Elon Musk the persona, but due to the fear that wild discourse may harm the values ​​of their brand. If Musk manages to allay their fears with concrete data, and can deliver on his AI promises, we will see a massive return of advertisers.”

I’m not holding my breath.

In this brave new world of X, it’s crucial to scrutinize these metrics before buying into the hype. Because in the land of social media, not all that glitters is gold—sometimes it’s just cleverly polished brass. So next time you see X boasting about its video views, remember to take it with a grain of salt. Or better yet, a whole salt shaker.

Pesach Lattin
Pesach Lattinhttp://www.adotat.com
Pesach "Pace" Lattin is one of the top experts in interactive advertising, affiliate marketing. Pesach Lattin is known for his dedication to ethics in marketing, and focus on compliance and fraud in the industry, and has written numerous articles for publications from MediaPost, ClickZ, ADOTAS and his own blogs.

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