Video Marketing

5 YouTube Video Metrics You Need to Use

Shawn Forno 07.11.2017

You’ve created a high-quality video and posted it on your website, YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook, and every social media channel under the sun. The views are pouring in, but you’re not sure if your video is actually achieving your marketing and sales objectives. Is the video increasing conversions or driving people to your site? Is it informing customers about a new feature or product? Does your CTA even work, or does it come too late in the video when the majority of people have stopped watching? The answer to these and a million other questions can be found in the YouTube video metrics and analytics. You just have to know where to look.

Posting the video is only half the battle. Get the highest ROI for your video, you have to track the video metrics that matter to you and your campaign’s objectives. This article looks at the 5 Most Important YouTube Video Metrics that matter to your video marketing campaign and how to cut through the data to understand how to increase reach, track conversions, and increase engagement with your target audience.

Read on for is the first installment of the Ultimate Video Metrics Guide: YouTube edition.

Video View Count: Measuring Reach

The number of views instantly communicate the “success” of your video by showing its popularity and reach, and while no one will dispute that views are a great barometer of a video’s marketing impact, it’s far from the only important metric to gauge the success of your video.

Sarah Green, Senior Associate Editor, Harvard Business Review, elaborates on how they analyze the reach of their videos:

“Our primary goal with video right now is reach, so we start by looking at how many views each video gets. But we are also looking at engagement metrics like completion rate and recirculation as indicators of whether our viewers are actually enjoying our videos. These other metrics are just as important, because quality really matters for a brand like ours, and views alone aren’t the best proxy for quality.”

Don’t get seduced by a high view count. Use views as a sub-metric combined with other metric categories like watch time, audience retention, and demographics. What does that mean exactly?

View Count in Other Video Metrics

A video with 10,000+ views is great, but only if those views are from potential leads. If the majority of views are from geographic locations outside your delivery area, for example, or they’re from an age range that doesn’t typically buy your product, a million views aren’t going to increase conversions. Looking at views by geography can give your marketing a lot of clarity, and sometimes some surprising insight into where your video is really working.

YouTube video metrics

How to Track YouTube Views by Country:

  • Sign-in and go to the Creator Studio Dashboard on YouTube
  • Select “Analytics”
  • Click the “Watch Time” tab
  • Click the “Geography” tab under the graphic

From there you can see which countries have watched any (or all) of your videos the most. You can also prioritize time watched, and even average duration watched to see which regions are really engaging with your videos. If you select the US in the country menu, you can even have that geographic information broken down by state to see where your videos are performing best.

Using view count as a filter in combination with other criteria—instead of a goal in and of itself—provides a lot more context than simply a metric of popularity. View count in a vacuum isn’t worth much, especially if people don’t stick around for your whole video.

How are View Counts Measured?

Not all platforms measure views the same way. YouTube, in particular uses a combination of proprietary algorithms to determine if a viewer is real, as well as a default view time of 30 seconds. Thirty seconds is by far the longest time before a view is officially counted—compared to immediate view counts or a three-second delay like Facebook—so it’s worth noting that your YouTube metric might differ from other metrics.

Here’s what counts as a “video view” on other platforms:

YouTube View Count Best Practices

Increasing your view count on YouTube is usually a matter of outreach, cultivating backlinks, and connecting with your target audience through meaningful, valuable content. A great way to do those things is by connecting with influencers and other creators in your field, sharing your video on social media (and tracking inbound traffic—more on that down below), and even using paid promotion.

Engagement Video Metrics: Watch Time vs. Average View Duration: We just learned that view count isn’t everything—people have to actually watch your video for it to be effective. The next most important metric is finding out how long people are watching your video, and that breaks down into two categories:

  • Watch Time
  • Average View Duration

Watch time is a YouTube video metric that tracks the total amount of time viewers have spent watching a single video, or a selection of videos on your channel during a specified amount of time. The default setting is 28 days, but you can change the duration by dragging the slider bar at the bottom of the watch time graphic in the analytics tab of the Creator Studio.

Think of watch time like your total score. It’s a similar metric to views, only it reflects the total engagement with videos on your channel. This metric gives you hard information, not just on how many people clicked or searched for your video, but how many of them stuck around to watch it. It’s a great tool for marketing managers to report in addition to raw conversions and a bump in site traffic.

Average view duration, on the other hand, tracks the average amount of time before a viewer drops-off and stops watching. You can splice this metric by demographic, region, content, date range, and other filter. Average view duration is the report card of engagement tracking engagement—if people viewed 80% of your video, you’re doing great. However, be careful not to confuse average view duration with the next important video metric—audience retention.

Audience Retention: Why Did They Stop Watching?

My favorite YouTube video metric has to be Audience Retention. It’s brutal to see when people stopped watching your video, but feedback—especially negative feedback—is vital for iterating and improving your video marketing strategy. You need to know exactly when people stopped watching your video so you can do something about it.

How to Use Audience Retention on YouTube:

  • Sign-in and go to the Creator Studio Dashboard on YouTube
  • Select “Analytics”
  • Click the “Audience Retention” tab
  • Select the Bar Chart option on the left for clear, color-coded comparisons of your video retention rates (it’s my preferred graphic)

YouTube video metrics

At the top of the graphic you’ll see two important stats—average view duration and average percentage viewed. The strength of the audience retention metric is that it puts these two numbers in context. You literally scroll along through your video watching as people either stick around to finish the video, or abruptly leave either because the content isn’t what they expected or because something about the video just isn’t working.

Every video has an initial drop-off, and no video gets 100% engagement, but if you notice a sharp drop-off at the beginning or middle of your video, it might be time to rethink the length of your video and the content as well as your CTA. What’s great about the audience retention tool on YouTube is that it has a “relative audience retention” option that shows you the normal retention rate for similar videos. You can see if your video performs as expected, and where it misses the mark. It’s a useful tool, especially for novice creators looking to adapt their style to a growing audience in an increasingly mobile world.

YouTube video metrics

Video Metrics: Mobile vs. Desktop

It’s no secret that the majority of video views now come from mobile devices. Gone are the days when you could comfortably rely on desktop users casually browsing your video from the comfort of their desk chair. You have to know how people are watching your video to manage their expectations with outreach, lead fostering, and future content. Luckily, you can track how people see your videos with the Devices tab on YouTube.

How to Track Mobile Views on YouTube:

  • Sign-in and go to the Creator Studio Dashboard on YouTube
  • Select “Analytics”
  • Click the “Devices” tab
  • Select the Bar Chart setting for the clearest visual graph (it’s my preferred setting)

YouTube video metrics

You can quickly see at a glance how most of your viewers watched your content. This information is invaluable for future video promotion, ad targeting, and even your next outreach step. If most of your views are coming from mobile, it might be worth investing in social media outreach or retargeting based on mobile devices. If desktop users provide the majority of your views, include a CTA that links to an information rich page on your website with steps for further opt-ins like a newsletter. It’s all about accurately understanding how people consume your video content so you can spend your marketing budget as effectively as possible.

You can even segment the audience further based on operating system.

Traffic Sources: Measuring Video SEO

The final YouTube video metric worth mentioning is quite possibly the most important one—namely, how people are finding your video. YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world, so it’s no surprise that the traffic source metrics and interfaces provide some useful insights into your target viewer.

YouTube Search vs. External Search: Traffic search is broken into several sources, but the two you need to focus on are YouTube search and external search.

YouTube Search Metrics: Obviously YouTube search—people searching for keywords on YouTube.com—is going to account for a significant portion of your videos views. You’re on YouTube after all. However, you can use this metric as a microcosm to see which keywords are most effective in organic search on YouTube and compare it with your overall SEO strategy.

YouTube video metrics

If you click on YouTube search in analytics, you can see the average view duration, watch time, total views, and percentage viewed for each search term that brought viewers to your video. Video is already a powerful way to build SEO strength into your website. Including keyword terms that you’re ranking for in YouTube search will only bolster your SEO efforts.

External Search Metrics: External search shows you where your video is being found (and viewed) not on YouTube. Essentially it’s a link-building metric that shows when other sites are using your video.

Simply click on “External” in YouTube Traffic Sources in the Analytics Tab of YouTube and see exactly where your views are coming from. You should find several websites driving traffic to your YouTube video (including your own site!), but pay particular attention to Google Search.

YouTube video metrics

Google search is technically an “external source,” and you want it to be be in the top three external sources. If you don’t see “Google Search” as a significant external traffic source for your YouTube video it might be time to adjust the keywords you’re trying to rank for, fix your video metadata, or tackle some more serious video SEO problems you might be having.

Other Important Video Metrics on YouTube

Too often marketers measure the effectiveness of the marketing resource, and not the CTA that the marketing is targeted at! When measuring the success of a video, always ask yourself, “Did this video help us accomplish the goal we set out to do?” If the answer is yes, congratulations! You made a great video.

While it’s important to measure views, watch time, average view duration, and search metrics, don’t forget to track the effectiveness of your campaign with downloads, site visits, subscribers, and other conversions.

New Subscribers: Adding subscribers to your YouTube channel is a fantastic metric of a video’s success. Not only does this mean that your video content was relevant, engaging, and helpful to this viewer, it indicates that your target audience wants more of the same. Plus, opt-ins are some of the strongest leads in any business.

Track new subscribers in the Engagement section to build a new lead generation tool.

CTR: Annotations; Tracking click-thru rate from YouTube is tough—you have to handle that with Google Analytics on your site and a dedicated landing page. However, you can track clicks to annotations on your videos to see if people are engaging with your CTAs.

YouTube is the largest video platform in the world, and it comes with some powerful, easy to use video metric tools. Find out how many people are watching your video, for how long, and you’re off to a great start. If you can analyze where viewers are coming from, and how they’re watching your video, that’s a bonus.

Remember that great video marketing starts with useful insight. Use YouTube video metrics to better understand your viewers, your SEO strategy, and increase the reach, engagement, and conversion rates of your videos for years to come.

Shawn Forno

Shawn Forno is a massive Studio Ghibli fan who does content marketing. In that order. Find his other writing and extensive travel blogging here.

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