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Video of paint drying gets 60,000 views on YouTube -- with help

March 5, 2012 |  8:35 am

A campaign video featuring Los Angeles City Atty. Carmen Trutanich has generated 725,000 views on YouTube, a huge number for a local political video.

Trutanich's campaign acknowledged to The Times that it had hired an online marketing firm to drum up views by aggressively advertising the video across the Internet.

To examine how such marketing services work, The Times decided to conduct an experiment:

In an effort to find out how easy it is to buy YouTube views, The Times posted two identical videos of a wet streak of blue children's paint. The 1-minute 47-second videos were given similar titles with deliberately misspelled words to lower the chances they'd be found in regular searches by Web users. One was uploaded to reporter Jack Leonard's YouTube account and the other to reporter David Sarno's.

The Times randomly chose a pair of websites touting quick and cheap views for any video and purchased 40,000 views for Leonard's clip. WorkingYouTubeViews.com charged $46 for 20,000 views; IncreaseYouTubeViews.com was paid $57 for another 20,000.

After eight days, the views on Leonard's video had hit 60,000 — far more than had been paid for. Sarno's video had only 13 views.

--Jack Leonard and David Sarno