12 Key YouTube Metrics You Should Track

12 Key YouTube Metrics You Should Track

13min read  

19 Oct 2020

Today, YouTube is a massive area of marketing, and to succeed on the platform, having a clear strategy is essential. And the first step to this is understanding key YouTube metrics.

When thinking of video metrics on YouTube, views may be the first thing to come to mind. However, the number of views and channel subscribers is far from being the only metric you should pay attention to. YouTube offers a wide selection of powerful analytics tools you can use to have a clear understanding of the success and failures of your videos. You can then utilize this data to inform your video strategy in the future.

To help you navigate YouTube Analytics, we've made a list of 12 key metrics you should be paying close attention to. In this article, we will explain how you can extract actionable data from each metric and how to choose the right insights to design your channel's growth strategy.


How to Access YouTube Analytics

Let’s start with a brief overview of how you can access the analytics tools on YouTube.

You need to start with signing in into your YouTube channel. Once you do this, proceed to YouTube Studio.

YouTube studio

You’ll be redirected to your YouTube studio dashboard. From the panel menu on the left, select “Analytics.” Here, you can access key data on your video performance, audience, engagement rates, and many more.

youtube advanced analytics

Each analytics page offers reports on the performance of the channel in general, as well as data on each separate video. The default settings are set to 28 days. However, you can adjust the time period on the upper-right side of the page.

The “See more” section under each report offers comprehensive information on each metric. All the data provided by YouTube is downloadable, and you can export it either as Google sheets or a .csv file.

youtube analytics export

The “See more” section under each report offers comprehensive information on each metric. All the data provided by YouTube is downloadable, and you can export it either as Google sheets or a .csv file.
With this out of the way, let’s now dive into the list of key YouTube metrics. 


Key YouTube Metrics

  1. Video Views

Video view is a fundamental metric of YouTube and one you are probably aware of. As the name suggests, the number of views on your video shows the total number of times the video was viewed, including repeated views by the same user.

YouTube video views

Having a high number of views is often seen as the ultimate goal for many creators. However, the problem with video views is that they can often be misleading. Looking at the number of video views alone as a success metric can be very one-sided as it doesn't consider the engagement level, the like vs. dislike ratio, the average percentage viewed, to name a few. It merely means that a certain number of people pressed the play button on the video. 

This doesn't mean that you should exclude video views as part of the metrics to consider, but it shouldn't be the primary one.

 

  1. Channel Subscribers


The number of your channel subscribers is another well-known YouTube metric. It shows how many people have followed your channel for new videos. Although very often considered to be a "vanity metric," the subscriber count is one of the most common ways to measure engagement with your channel. Users who subscribe to your channel will see your videos on top of their feed. They can also choose to be notified every time you upload a new video. 

youtube subscribers

Your subscribers are a testament that the viewers not only took their time to watch your video but liked it so much they would like to see more of your content. On average, subscribers watch your videos twice as often as non-subscribers. They are also more likely to share your videos and become your channel "evangelists." Therefore, having a higher subscriber number will ultimately result in more views.

 

  1. Watch Time


YouTube defines this as the total amount of time people have spent watching the video. While it may seem surprising, watch time is, in fact, a primary ranking factor on YouTube. Videos with higher watch time are perceived to be more engaging by the YouTube algorithm. The higher the watch time, the more your video will appear in search results and as a suggested video.

You can access the watch time of each video, as well as your overall channel from the "Analytics" section in YouTube Studio. Scroll down to see the average watch time of each video, or select "See More" for more detailed information.

youtube watch time report

Alternatively, you can calculate the average watch time of each video by multiplying your average view duration by views.

To increase the average watch time of your video, work on:

  • Getting as many people to watch your videos.
  • Getting people to watch as much of your individual videos as possible.

Looking at the average watch time of each video can give you valuable insights into what type of videos your audience wants to see and how long your videos should be.

  1. Average Percentage Viewed


The average percentage viewed shows how many percent of each video was watched, on average. For example, if the video is 4 minutes long and the average percentage viewed is 25%, it indicates that on average, people watch one minute of your video before leaving. This metric gives an idea of how engaging your video is and how well it can hold the viewers' attention. Videos with a higher average view percentage appear higher in search, as the YouTube algorithm sees them as more entertaining.

You can access the average view percentage report by clicking the "See More" button in the watch time section.

youtube analytics tools

Here, you can find detailed reports for the selected time-frame by traffic source, geography, age, gender, subscription status, and other metrics. 
A high average view percentage indicates that the viewers find your videos appealing. Make sure to use this metric when analyzing the topics your audience is interested in and how long your videos should be.

 

  1. Average View Duration


The average view duration is a crucial ranking factor on YouTube. It is quite similar to the "Average Percentage Viewed" metric in that it shows how engaging the video is for your audience. High average view durations show that the content of your video is interesting for the viewers, and they are ready to stick and see what you have to see. On the contrary, if your video is 5 minutes long and the average view duration is 30 seconds, it may not be the right content for your viewers. Working towards improving your average view duration will help the video rank higher in the search and appear in the suggestions more often.

youtube average view duration

Use this metric to understand which topics are more interesting for your audience, as well as when you lose their attention. Analyze these insights, see what videos with highest average view duration have in common, and plan your future content based on the results.  

 

  1. Audience Retention


Audience retention is the metric that shows when people stop watching your video at any single moment. Retention rates are an important ranking factor, as well as an essential data source for creators.

On YouTube, there are two types of retention rates: absolute and relative. The absolute retention rate shows how well any specific video retains the viewers. The relative retention rate shows how well it retains the audience compared to other videos of the same length.

You can access the retention rate of each video by going to its analytics section and scrolling down. 

youtube audience retention rate

The percentage indicates what percentage of initial viewers has watched your video until a given point. Click “See more” to access more advanced information on absolute and relative retention rates.

youtube audience retention

Data on retention rates may inform your video content strategy. Steep dips can show you where large chunks of the viewers lose interest. If you seen this pattern repeat itself for several videos, you may reconsider using those elements in your next videos. You can also determine the optimal length of your videos, so that your audience doesn’t get bored.

 

  1. Impression Click-through Rate (CTR)


The impressions click-through rate is a metric that indicates which chunk of viewers clicked on the play button after seeing it in their feed, trending, or suggestions. It showcases the ability of your videos to prompt the viewer to click on them.

You can access detailed information on the impressions click-through rate for each of your videos in the “Engagement” section of analytics.

youtube impressions CTR

Impressions click-through rate can give an idea of how well the title and thumbnail of your video perform. If, for example, you have 200,000 impressions but only 5,000 people have clicked on the video, you may want to change the title or the thumbnail of your video. Analyze the titles and thumbnails of similar videos on YouTube, see what they have in common, and try to adopt a similar strategy. 

 

  1. Cards and End Screen Metrics


YouTube cards and end screens are a beloved tool of creators worldwide for promoting videos, playlists, channels, or websites. You can think of YouTube cards or end screens as clickable CTAs on your video: if engaging enough, they can prompt the viewers to take the desired action.

Understanding how your end screens perform can help you utilize them more effectively. Certain types of texts may work better than others, or a playlist card may work better than playlist end screens for certain types of videos.

You can access your card metrics from the “Watch Time” report.

youtube end card reports

Closely analyze the card CTRs by video, and try to find patterns. This can show you which types of cards people prefer to see when watching your videos, cards in which section of your video perform better, and what is the optimal number of cards per video.

youtube end card analytics

These reports can help you add the most engaging cards to your videos, potentially increasing website traffic, channel engagement, and total watch time.

 

  1. Interaction


Interaction metrics indicate the level to which people interact and engage with your videos. They show to the YouTube algorithm how engaging your video is for the viewers. You've probably noticed that some of your favorite creators often ask to like or add comments to the video. This is done because videos with a higher number of likes, comments, and shares tend to rank higher in search.

  • Likes/dislikes - Likes and dislikes can help you understand which topics, or even opinions, work best for your audience.
    youtube video likes and dislikes
  • Comments - The comment section of your video can shed light on your video's emotional effect on the viewers, as well as give ideas on what type of conversation your viewers are willing to engage.
    youtube comments
  • Share - The number of shares indicates the level to which your audience resonates with your video. Since people share the type of content they agree with, a higher number of shares for a particular content type can mean that it works best for your audience. Try to find a common ground between the videos that get the most shares, and you may find the topics your viewers are interested in the most.
    youtube share reports

 

  1. Traffic Sources


Traffic sources show how the viewers have found your videos. This may be the YouTube search, list of suggested videos, external sources, and social media channels. These are all traffic sources that shouldn't be ignored. For example, if you are receiving high traffic from a specific website, this may give you an idea of what type of audience is interested in your video by analyzing the website. You can then use these insights to understand your viewers better and create video content that appeals to them.
youtube traffic sources

  1. Unique Viewers


The number of unique viewers of your videos is the number of individuals who have watched your video over time. This is the metric that can help you understand the actual size of your audience. For example, if the number of video views is higher than the number of your unique viewers, it means that the same users have been binging on the video for more than once. Another important insight this metric can give you is how engaged your subscribers are. If the number of your unique viewers is lower than the number of your subscribers, it means your channel subscribers are not watching all of your videos. Try to engage them by optimizing your channel content and asking them to turn on notifications.

You can find comprehensive information on your unique viewers from the “Audience” section of your YouTube analytics report.
youtube unique viewers

  1. Audience Demographics


The demographics allow you to measure the general information about your viewers, such as their age, gender, and location. This demographic report will show you the audience you are reaching and who your most engaged viewers are. These insights are crucial for  determining or better understanding your
target audience.

youtube audience demographics

The information can also help you customize the videos to appeal to the audience you target. For example, let's say that the audience you are targeting is women between the ages of 18 and 24, but instead, you are reaching men between the ages 25 and 34 years old. You can then use this information either to re-evaluate your target audience,or alter your content the way it will appeal to initially intended viewers.

Conclusion

These were some of the key YouTube channel metrics you need to take into consideration if you are working towards promoting your channel and reaching higher rankings. Leveraging the insights these analytics tools will help you create a more informed video strategy for your channel. They will give you critical data that you can use to optimize your future videos and make them more engaging for the viewers. Make sure to analyze these metrics and understand what works for your audience.

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