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The Top 5 YouTube Analytics Every Marketer Should Know

The Top 5 YouTube Analytics Every Marketer Should Know

OK, so you’re tracking the effectiveness of your website via Google Analytics or some of the excellent enterprise analytics solutions. But did you know that YouTube, which is part of Google, has an incredible analytics offering as well? In fact, YouTube Analytics probably gives users more ways to slice and dice their data than any video platform ever has.

Photo Credit: Bloomua / Shutterstock.com

But like Google Analytics, YouTube Analytics has so much data that it can be overwhelming. So today we’re going to give you just five key features that will help you track the audience of your business videos. And please note that while there are also many great measurement tools available with Google AdWords for Video, aka TrueView (where any business can advertise on YouTube), we won’t be covering them in this post. Also there are excellent third-party solutions for YouTube Analytics, including Tubular LabsTubeBuddy, VidIQ and others, but today we will just cover the basic YouTube Analytics features from a mostly organic traffic point of view.

Take a look: This is your own YouTube Analytics home page here (you must be signed in to your channel).

Debunking a Myth: It’s Not About The Views

This may seem counter-intuitive, but views shouldn’t be one of your top considerations on YouTube. Yes, they are an exciting vanity metric. But what matters is the quality of those views in the context of who is watching and their level of engagement and conversion.

youtube views

Importantly, YouTube doesn’t rank its videos based on how many views they get. YouTube ranks them mostly based on the more opaque metric of “session time,” which is how long a user spends watching a series of YouTube videos, yours being one of them, during a given viewing session. But unfortunately Google/YouTube does not show this session time metric to users – it’s a closely held secret, just like the exact algorithm by which Google ranks websites in search. So we have to use other metrics that, when used together, give us general indicators of the quality of our session time.

Tracking By Channel, Video, And Date Range

tracking channels

As we begin, it’s important to know how the features near the top of the page work. It’s very easy to toggle between looking at overall channel analytics and individual video analytics. If you want to look at an individual video’s metrics, click in the “Search for Content” field (highlighted in yellow above) and type in the name of the video. To look at the channel overall, just clear that field. Towards the top right of the page, you can select the date range (highlighted in pink above) that you want to measure.

The Top 5 YouTube Analytics features every marketer should know:

1) The Subscriber Count

subscriber count

The subscriber count is easy to find on any of your videos – you don’t even need to go into YouTube Analytics for this one. This may be basic, but your subscriber count offers a predictive analytic of how many organic views you’ll get on a given future video. As a brand, if you do no additional amplification of the video via social media, email or paid promotion, you can reasonably expect about 5% of your subscriber count to transfer to views. So if you have 1000 subscribers, you can expect around 50 views. Of course, your video still has to be interesting and relevant to the audience. But, you may be asking, shouldn’t every video on YouTube get viewed millions of times? Of course not. It’s the same on Facebook or Twitter – if you don’t have the likes or followers, don’t expect to get your posts read. Same goes for YouTube videos.

Often you will see a business YouTube channel that has many more views than subscribers. These views have most likely been driven as part of a paid campaign. But the important question is: Are those paid views properly targeted and engaging the viewer? Without proper targeting of engaging videos, the views lose their value.

2) Average View Duration and Percentage Viewed

average page views

Matt Gielen, director of programming and audience development for Frederator Networks, is one of the top thinkers in the YouTube Analytics space. Gielen says that “Average View Duration” and “Average Percentage Viewed” are his most valuable metrics. By looking at the average view duration you can get a pretty good idea of how long people want to watch videos on your channel. If you can keep viewers watching longer, your channel will generally rank higher in YouTube search and suggested videos.

“Watch Time, as YouTube refers to it,” Gielen says, “is the primary factor in YouTube algorithm optimization. As a result, focusing on the average view duration and percentage of video viewed are the two most valuable metrics to get more organic viewership to your channel and videos.”

Check out your channel’s average view duration here.

3) Traffic Sources, Especially Suggested Video Views

Just as in website analytics, you should know where your YouTube traffic is coming from. And importantly, the “Traffic Sources” section shows a value for “Suggested Videos.” Suggested videos are referrals to other videos that come up on the right hand side of each page when you’re watching a video (on mobile, they’re below the video). Suggested videos are the top source of organic traffic for most videos, and they’re ranked by session time and relevance to the playing video. You can increase the likelihood of your video being clicked on here by having enticing thumbnails that look good small and are relevant to the topic your video covers.

Check out your channel’s traffic sources here.

4) Subscribers Driven By Videos

subscribers by video

If people are interested in your videos and products, one way to show that interest is by subscribing to your channel. If your videos are very engaging, you will be able to track, for each video, day by day, how many subscribers that video is bringing you.

According to Jeremy Vest of the YouTube marketing agency VidPow, if you’re driving more than 1% subscribers per view, you’re on the right track. Meaning for every 1,000 views, your video should drive 10 new subscribers to your channel.

“By understanding the percentage of people watching videos who then subscribe to your channel,” Vest said, “you can gauge how many people value your message. If this metric is low, you might not be providing value or entertainment.”

Check out how many new subscribers you’re driving on your channel.

5) Video Engagement Reports

video engagement reports

Again it comes back to engagement. How engaging are your videos to your viewers? Well, if people value a video, they will like it, comment on it, and/or share it. According to VidPow, if you can get more than 1% engagement on a video, you’re doing OK. It’s a little tricky to total up all the engagement points by hand, but as a shortcut you can add the comments and likes and estimate that as the engagement. So if you have three engagements (two likes and one comment) on a video with about 300 views, your engagement is on the right track.

Check out your how many likes your YouTube videos are getting.

Alright, now you’re equipped with your YouTube Analytics tools, and en route to a more engaging, and hopefully more prosperous, YouTube channel. Go forth and conquer! If you have questions, feel free to ask them in the comments section.

Editorial image credit attribution:

Bloomua / Shutterstock.com

Video is taking content marketing by storm as people are spending more and more time watching videos online. Brands are able to create strong relationships with their audiences, build brand loyalty, and drive quantifiable customer engagement. Despite this trend, few companies know how to utilize video content marketing. Watch Act-On’s free webinar to learn 3 Building Blocks to Get You Started with Video Marketing.


Dane Golden is a digital marketing strategist specializing in influencer marketing on YouTube and other social media platforms including Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus. He invites you to friend him on LinkedIn.

  • Do you have comments about this post or your YouTube analytics? I’d be happy to answer them here in the comments section. Ask away!