Youtube Videos: The Boob Effect

Are you more interested in looking at this post because it has the word ‘boob’ in it? On average, I bet you are – I know I am.

We were at a friends house with fast internet in Tahiti (a rarity) and we were streaming youtube videos which we rarely get to do. Being a compulsive list creator and data collector, I was keeping track of the videos of South Pacific ocean passages which we enjoyed watching.

the boob effect delosWhile perusing SV Delos great videos we noticed an amusing fact. They had split their Pacific crossing video into parts, labeled 1,2, & 3, all uploaded on the same date, but the parts had vastly different numbers of views. Actually, the parts had similar views except one video which had  almost 10 times the number of views – the one with a thumbnail picture that included a woman in a bikini.

Having been a scientist in a former life, I set out to make a  terribly controlled test of the theory that it was boobs in the thumbnail that increased the views. Only having one South Pacific passage video to work with of our own, I used a within subject, longitudinal case study.

We had 15 months of view data on our video with a thumbnail that did not include boobs. In early December, I changed the thumbnail to include me in a bikini. Now, note, I was already in the video in a bikini (um, its HOT out there at the equator – believe me, sometimes the bikini was only put on because the camera was coming out). I took a screen shot that was already in the original video and changed the thumbnail (the still image you see on a search, or in a suggested video screen) to include boobs. In the graphs below the pink/red line is the boob data and the blue line is the pre-boob data – axis units held constant.

the boob effect estrellita

In the 3 months since we have made that change, we have had as many minutes watched as we had in the preceding 15 months and we have had 2/3 as many views which, with only 1/5 as much time, with no natural or artificial changes, you would expect 1/5 as many views. Did I mention that our youtube viewers are 90% male?


Of course, to finish the test, to show that this is not the normal curve of a videos gain in popularity, or the effect of some other non-boob factor, I should now remove the thumbnail and replace it with a third option, something without boobs but appetizing nonetheless… but I think I’ll stop while the results fit my theory ;)


  1. holy cow! I guess i need to wear more bikinis in our videos!

  2. I'm a man. What am I supposed to show to get more views?
    Oh yeah, 90% of viewers are much for that idea.

  3. Ha! Why am I not surprised? Just think how many more viewers you'd have if you adopted Taru's editorial policy?

  4. Horatio - Well, I didn't say the 90% were straight ;)

    Horizonstar - well that would solve the expensive laundry situation!



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