Incentivized Views are bad and you should feel bad.

I was reading Mike Shields’s recent article covering Jun Network. It got me thinking about incentivized video views and I figured I should jot my thoughts down.

I don’t place much value in an incentivized view. Being an avid mobile gamer (a common place for incentivized views), I know gamers are ignoring the video view to get the prize. Brands shouldn’t set themselves up to be the “system”  in the old adage, “gaming the system”.

More importantly, incentivized views create a situation where a user will watch content that is completely irrelevant to them. Networks that run incentivized views gain little advantage in proper audience targeting (in fact, targeting just reduces their user base). Great creative and targeting don’t drive success. The virtual prize does. In economics, this situation is typically referred to as information asymmetry or more commonly known as moral hazard.

Most arguments for incentivized views revolve around comparisons to television ads. Users are incentivized to watch commercials on TV by the quality programming. I agree with this statement. However, I’d also like to add that TV ads generally suck. Honestly, when was the last time you actually watched an entire commercial break outside the Super Bowl? Why would you want to continue using such a limited advertising format in digital?

You can build practically any experience the mind can imagine. And I guess that’s it — the thing that ticks me off so much about incentivized views. It’s the lack of imagination in a space so rich with potential.

tl;dr – Incentivized views are bad and you should feel bad using them.

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