Going viral is the holy grail for any bedroom contributor to YouTube, but the elusive status may not be as elusive was previously thought.

Chase Hoffberger, writing in The Daily Dot, tells the story of how he pushed a silly, 19-second video he made past 60,000 views simply buy giving $50 to a guy named Kenzo.

Kenzo runs the Web service YT Views, which sells "real" YouTube views buy the thousands. It's one of dozens of sites which offer similar services, transforming the mythical alchemy of spontaneous popularity growth into a simple transactional process.

To get the views, the services use a relatively simple system. First they embed the given video on a random website somewhere and set it to autoplay. Then they use bots to direct thousands of rented IP addresses from around the world to the web address. Since the video autoplays, each hit the site gets racks up another view.

The purveyors of YouTube views that Hoffberger spoke to said they often work with people in the music industry, usually artist managers, who are trying to kickstart buzz for their clients. And that's how the services work best— as a primer, not an end-game solution. Sustained popularity is not something that can easily be faked or paid for, at least not yet.

So look twice the next time an obscure video becomes an overnight success. Not all views are necessarily created equal.

[via The Daily Dot]