Gangnam Style: One Billion Views in a Global Market

This is a guest post from GeoRiot, a service that provides universal affiliate links for iTunes and other digital retailers.

This week, 21st century pop culture raised the bar when Gangnam Style had it’s 1 billionth YouTube view.  As it turns out, both the label (Schoolboy/Universal Republic Records, a division of UMG Recordings, Inc.) and YouTube missed some opportunities to leverage those page visits.

One billion views is no small accomplishment and it presents an unbelievable marketing opportunity; I’m sure that both YouTube and the label are enjoying a little extra holiday cheer due to the ad revenue.  Unfortunately, there were a several missed opportunities, both from YouTube and the label, to better capitalize on this phenomenon by simply using the iTunes Affiliate Program.

As per standard operating procedures for marketing music on YouTube, there is a good call to action for consumers (“NOW available on iTunes”).  Further, by adding a geo-aware link in the description of the video, they were on the right track and helped the label earn some royalties from sales on iTunes worldwide.  However, the fail here comes from looking closer at that link –

Similar to, by simply adding a plus sign to the end of any link, any person can take a more in-depth look at the metrics of that link, (eg. ).  Looking at these analytics reveal some interesting numbers.  Most interesting was the number of clicks (over 1.15M), the number of affiliated links that were used (none!), and the geographical distribution of the clicks.

As there are no affiliate links provided in any of the “Override URLs” that the label built in their link, by default, SmartURL (by Gupta Media) affiliated each of these links with their affiliate tracking parameters.  The quick math of 1.15M, minus ~14% (clicks from non-iTunes ecosystem devices), then multiplied by a penny (the rough average we see at GeoRiot as the value per click), gives SmartURL approximately $10K!  SmartURL should be buying UMG Recordings, Inc. a nice holiday gift as a thank you for giving up ~$10K in affiliate commissions.

While not directly affiliate-related, an additional fail comes by looking at the reported “Countries.”  As you can see, Korea, Turkey and India account for a significant portion of the audience with 4.9%, 3.8%, and 2.6% of total traffic respectively:

 However, again back to the “Override URLs” added to the link, we notice these countries are not accounted for.

Why is that a fail? People from Korea, Turkey, or India (10% of the people clicking on that link) were greeted with an error at the iTunes Store!

It’s great that the Merch Store Annotations are shown prominently at the beginning and end of the video, but because they were not affiliated, it’s another lost opportunity for the label.  Given that Merch Store Annotations are a relatively new tool for selling from inside a YouTube video, we haven’t had a chance to test to see if services providing international iTunes links can be used.  However, at the very least, the iTunes link could have been converted to a “short” iTunes link to earn the label additional commissions in North America.

This time it’s YouTube’s fail.  There are no iTunes OR Amazon commerce links!  While it might be an internal agenda to only promote sales in Google Play, YouTube typically includes affiliate links to both iTunes and Amazon for most mainstream music.  Once again a missed opportunity to earn more revenue from the iTunes Affiliate Program.

Now, one more time, for a billion views’ sake: