Well, the day has finally come. A video on YouTube has finally topped 100 million views, and for better or worse it belongs to Canada’s pop princess, the pride of working-class Napanee, Ontario: Avril Lavigne. The video for her song “Girlfriend” is now at about 110 million views, well ahead of second-place holder Justin Laipply’s “Evolution of Dance.” The fans over at Avril’s BandAids forum are no doubt celebrating, since the record is the culmination of a viral marketing campaign cooked up by the site. First, BandAids came up with a YouTube “view-o-matic” page, which loaded the Avril video every 15 seconds. This cheat was picked up by dozens of media outlets — including yours truly, in a post at my Globe and Mail blog, which got linked to by Perez Hilton (watch those servers melt!).
Alas, it later turned out that BandAids knew YouTube would — as its policy states — block the IP address of its automated viewer page after 200 consecutive views. Embedding for the video was also eventually disabled, although it’s not clear if that was YouTube’s doing or something Lavigne’s label did. In any case, what the fan site was really after was publicity for the video, which it got in spades. As a post at BandAids detailed, the resulting PR helped push the views of the video closer to 100 million every time a story was written about it.
The detail-oriented will no doubt point out that another video hit 100 million views before Avril’s: a homemade music video for the Brazilian band Cansei de Ser Sexy’s hit “Music is My Hot, Hot Sex,” which was used in an Apple iPod commercial, hit 112 million views earlier this year. The video was eventually removed from the top-view leaderboard by YouTube, however, after a controversy over manipulation of the viewer numbers (something Andy “Waxy” Baio looked into in depth), and the clip was later removed by its creator. All of which means Avril stands alone at the peak of YouTube viewerdom, which will eventually make her millions.