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District Attorney Candidate Carmen Trutanich Paid for a 'Viral' Hit on YouTube

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Recently, the campaign to elect Carmen Trutanich for District Attorney released a press release, trumpeting the fact that 725,000 people had watched his campaign video YouTube.

This number raised some red flags. First, the video didn't seem to have the makings of a viral hit (i.e. there were no kittens or Super PAC contributors speaking out against birth control). Also, it's unlikely that that many people are even so heavily invested in the DA race that they're searching YouTube for Carmen Trutanich videos. (By comparison, Steve Cooley won his spot at the DA in 2000 after receiving 573,236 votes.)

So the Los Angeles Times asked the campaign how it got so many views, and it fessed up: they paid a firm to get views and turn it into a "viral hit." An L.A. firm told the Times that the campaign paid to get 150,000 to 250,000 views and the rest were organic, but a Connecticut firm said the campaign paid them to get 400,000 views.

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YouTube removed several positive comments left on the video for violating its terms of service that bans "commercially deceptive content," the Times reported. And now for some reason all the videos from his campaign have been set to private and can't be viewed on YouTube.

So instead of bringing you the ad, we've embedded a highly entertaining video of paint drying above. It's not a Warholian art tribute, but a social media experiment brought to you by the Los Angeles Times. The paper paid a two firms about $100 altogether to increase their YouTube views and it worked: the video above generated 60,000 hits last we checked. By contrast, their control in the experiment—the exact same video uploaded on a different account—now has only 50 views (and we're guessing the bulk of those probably came from people who read the story by the Times this morning).

Even if you can't watch Trutanich's video on YouTube, you can still catch it on Vimeo on the campaign website. It doesn't say just how many people have watched the Vimeo version, because those settings have been set to private, too.