Fake Buzz for a Chinese brand of electronic cigarettes
Sometimes when you see a video on Youku (Chinese Youtube), enjoying a big number of comment, shares and views, don’t come out with a conclusion that it’s a buzz video that easily.
This video was viewed over 450,000 times in less than 12 hours. At the first sight, the video one makes me feel like watching a buzz video: showing an homemade testing machine that “smokes 400 cigarettes” and collects everything that is normally inhaled by the smoker in a bottle of water. The clean water finally ends like black tar when all the 400 cigarettes are smocked. Then the water evaporates and leaves a frightening chunk of sticky black tar filled with carcinogens. Gross!
This kind of shocking video in China never fails attracting netizens who would like to share with their friends.
The video includes text describing the dangers of tobacco as well as statistics on tobacco-related deseases in China ( for example 1 in 5 deaths in China is caused by smoking-related diseases). Then is introduced the text that presents the “new technology” that can help smokers to “effectively” put an end to their addiction.
Indeed the video is an ad for an electronic cigarette that cost 188 RMB (30 USD) as one can see in a link included in the video.
The floating link “www.nk268.com” throughout the video, redirecting to a Taobao page for the product.
450 000 views in 12 hours ?
First lets have a look on comments.
The first 15 pages of comments all come from commentators who post from an Android deviced smartphone.
Even more intriguing the names of commentators are random combinations of letters and numbers.
Comments are published at the same time.
By clicking on the names of the commentators you can see their profiles: EMPTY !
These are the famous zombies accounts on Sina Weibo and Youku.
This suggests that someone use a robotic method to inflate the number of comments and views of the video.
Why? To reach customers! A video with a great number of views and a lot of “comments” can climb to the top of some lists on Youku and sometimes even on the home page of Youku, thus obtaining greater exposure and attention from real users who are potential costumers.
This is the way how online marketing in China works: Quantity!
Real Video Maker
Then something appeals to you even more with this video. Is the experimenter in the video Chinese ? The voice-over suggests it. We can see english text on the screen, but it could be just a sign of respect for potential non-Chinese buyers.
A quick online search shows that the video of this experience was already on YouTube in 2007 and in high definition.
On the YouTube profile picture of the user that first posted the video you can see “Japan”. Then you take a closer look to the pyramid of newspapers under the 400 cigarettes at the beginning of the experiment. Bingo ! It’s Japanese!
So what we have now is a merchant on Taobao which not only made fake comments, inflates the number of views of the video, but also published a video which is not even of his own.