The future of video has never been so bright as it appears just about now. From a marketing, and content creation perspective, YouTube remains the top platform for sharing videos. Since its launch, the social network has never really developed a fool-proof system to eliminate cases of purchasing bot-driven views, a vice that continues to gain popularity for creators who claim that they are doing so to popularize their new channels (although they will never tell you that is the case) – and that is where the problem because it is increasingly challenging to know the authenticity of other YouTube videos.

In essence, the number of views a video garners is what makes a video successful or impactful – in addition to likes, comments and of course, subscriber count. If a video commands many views, it gets to appear at the top of search results, a move that sells it to more eyes, which translates to more revenues for the creator via ad impressions and so forth. It is always obvious many views theoretically legitimizes its creator. However, this has not been the case owing to shady numbers that have since been seen on some music videos especially in the Kenyan entertainment business.

The music video that brought this issue to light is done by Kenya’s hip-hop artist, Octopizzo. Titled Oliel, it accumulated about 25K views in the first few hours after upload before those numbers hit the roof in under 24 hours. When we checked the view count on the Friday of August 10, the video had hit a healthy 1.4 million views and amassed over ten thousand likes. Because it is possible and subjectively plausible that those numbers were real, we could not let things slide because some pointers did not make sense. Specifically, there is no way the record could have gained that viewership and still fail make it at the top of trending videos at least locally (it is at #14 at the moment). Contrastingly, Otile Brown’s Baby Love has lesser views but has been received well based on trending broadcasts.

Additionally, the views have stagnated at that number – which doesn’t make sense because statistics and the manner in which people view videos do not take such a pattern. Ideally, the views gave us the impression that Oliel was a popular song, meaning more people are bound to discover it as days go by. It is impractical why that interest would nosedive in a day or two.

There is only one conclusion that can be made from this trend: those views were probably purchased. It is an unethical way of promoting content, and some of you may be convinced so since the rapper has not been the most honest person in his trade. The other day, he pushed an Instagram image on his feed, which later emerged that it belonged to someone else. After an online backlash, the rapper removed the portrait. Honestly, this behavior paints a picture of an artist who can do anything, deceitful or otherwise, to push numbers and stay appealing to his audience.

Here is what some Kenyans on Twitter had to say:

The bot-viewing community is a powerful one and has been around for some time as we mentioned earlier. YouTube is currently defeated to patch things up, whereas Facebook and Twitter seem to have made some progress in this area. We also have reports that it is a booming business that is not going away for some time as those armies always find a way to game the system. If you look around well, you will spot sites that sell views, and they have customers that flock to their shops.

It is not known how long artists will continue to scam their fans with dubious means to market their content, which, if you look at it keenly, does publicize them (albeit in bad light) and works in some cases (because we have written an article about it – see?). At the moment, we just have wait and see if Google will deal with the menace that is obviously slipping out of hand. Some have suggested that the only way to cut view-bots is to do away with view counters, although the move can defeat the purpose of YouTube anyway.

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Kenn Abuya is a friend of technology, with bias in enterprise and mobile tech. Share your thoughts, tips and hate mail at [email protected]


  1. Typos and errors

    >> When we checked the view count on the Friday of October** 10, the video had hit a healthy 1.4 million views and more than ten thouand** likes.

  2. lol article full of hate. first on “the which later emerged that it belonged to someone else article” he did acknowledge the artist and he posted coz he liked the shoes which he later bought … so looks like you don’t do research which is ok coz you are entitled to your opinions for the sake of ads. on his latest video views u might be right and wrong at the same time, actually YouTube has done a lot of work to eliminate bots. how this work is simple … people are paid to view videos (mostly in India). Back to statistics; 1. Averagely the nigga always gun between 1.1M to 2M views he is within his range. 2. he got over 2K comments as compared to other trending videos – his video is the video leading with comments – ama ata comments amelipa.3. if you didn’t know the number of views don’t make a video trend, its the number of plays so even ten pple can make a video trend (when they play the video number of times) and finally lately the artist has been doing a lot of worldwide branding and marketing. so before you write an article kindly reseach and weigh both side, this don’t mean you are wrong but you lack facts.

    • 1. “…he did acknowledge the artist and he posted coz he liked the shoes which he later bought” – have you heard of stage managing a crisis/PR nightmare? You cannot use someone’s image without giving credit. Even if that were the case, why did he pull down the image? Come on.
      2. “so looks like you don’t do research which is ok coz you are entitled to your opinions for the sake of ads…” okay boss, we are letting this slide.
      3. “…on his latest video views u might be right and wrong at the same time.” – True, which is why this is an oped.
      4. Let’s check your opinions: a) on the views he garners. You forgot to add that those numbers are accumulated over a lengthy period. b) Bots actually leave comments, FYI. c) The reason videos trend is based on viewership. Using your statistical sample of 10 people, it wouldn’t add up. Like I wrote, Otile Brown’s Baby Love has fewer views, but is at the top of the charts. Namba Nane’s wasn’t even in top 10. Do you need me to go on?

      Like I said, this is an ope’d, but that does not mean I ignored factual pointers as written.

  3. The video definitely got fake views…However the more difficult question to answer is whether Octopizzo/other similar videos was involved in purchasing those fake views.If we took down all videos with fake views all a competitor/hater/bad guy has to do for you channel to flop is buy fake views for your video which is very easy to do so as things stand….fake views will be here for a while.Octopizzo should also continue making good music and the views will come….no need for this if he was involved.
    There was a time Mutahi Ngunyi’s channel exhibited the same.A video would have like 80,000 views and no comments!And the way Kenyans like politics and Mutahi’s content was usually not favorable to both sides of the political divide so one would expect at least 20 comments for/against the video…how now!

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