The microfamous are set to lose one of their own to the squealing hordes who follow the macrofamous when sk8r pop sensation Avril Lavigne's Girlfriend becomes the most viewed video on YouTube, surpassing Judson Laipply's Evolution of Dance. How are tweens planning to storm the gates of democratization in order to install their über-trendy God-queen atop YouTube's throne?
Every 15 seconds this page will automatically refresh adding 1 view to Girlfriend's YouTube total each time it does. Keep this page open while you browse the internet, study for exams, or even sleep. For extra viewing power, open up two or more browser windows at this page!
It's the kind of view-gaming that advertisers would normally consider fraud — that is, if what fans were doing wasn't better the best advertising Lavigne and her label RCA could buy.
Of course, it was mere allegations of view-gaming that eventually caused YouTube to pull the previous pretender to the "Most viewed" throne, Clarus Bartel's Cansei der Sexy (Music is my hot, hot sex). But I have a feeling YouTube won't be pulling Lavigne's video any time soon. Once at the top, the views will simply snowball from there. And YouTube will be in the happy position of selling advertising against a pop star's music video that is, itself, advertising.
While the view gaming of the Girlfriend video might have juiced the stats, what's amazing is that it achieved its place with off-site embedding turned off. YouTube, a cross-site video pioneer that has now become a black hole where embeds go to die thanks to the DMCA and copy-protection filters, can't mind — because rather than running against ads on a third-party site, every Lavigne view is in on the company's site and in the company's salable partner program inventory.
Lavigne is still officially in second place, less than a million views off the leader's pace. In Laipply's video, the use of licensed music falls under fair use territory, but it's enough of a gray area that he isn't even in the partner program, and therefore can't generate a single advertising impression. Still, considering the controversy over retaking the top spot stirred by a lone Italian with video editing software and possibly some scripting tricks, I wouldn't be surprised if the situation wasn't being monitored manually with YouTube admins freezing view counts until the company can come to some agreement with RCA. It's the music business, after all, where a little extortion between friends is standard operating procedure.