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Building a must-see YouTube channel starts with understanding your audience.
And there’s no better place to gather actionable insights than your YouTube Analytics.
Want to know which of your videos are binge-worthy? Curious where the bulk of your viewers are coming from?
Well, the answers are just a few clicks away.
But while YouTube’s native analytics platform is a treasure trove of data, its depth can be overwhelming for total beginners.
That’s why we put together this guide breaking down the core pillars of YouTube Analytics, including:
Before we get into the nitty-gritty, we need to drive home just how important your analytics are.
Because YouTube’s algorithm (like most social algorithms) is unpredictable. Competition is absolutely fierce on the platform as well.
Anything you can do to optimize your channel performance is a plus. Through your YouTube Analytics, you can zero in on:
In short, YouTube Analytics can provide a detailed roadmap to guide your video marketing strategy.
If you’re trying view YouTube Analytics for the first time, simply visit the YouTube Analytics page directly.
Alternatively, you can click on the “Analytics” tab in YouTube Studio.
Again, don’t let the platform intimidate you! To kick things off, we’ll break down the basics.
This report is a high-level summary of your videos’ most recent performance. Think of it as YouTube’s version of the Google Analytics homepage.
Easy to understand at a glance, the Overview Report tells whether or not your numbers are up. Looking at engagement metrics such as watch time and views, you have a simplified snapshot of your overall performance.
This is a great “just the facts” report when you don’t have time to take a deep dive into your YouTube channel analytics.
No surprises here. This report shows you an estimate of view count data for your most recent videos, including people-watching in real-time. If you’re pushing out video content on a frequent basis, this report can let you know if any new videos are experiencing a spike in engagement.
The Realtime Report displays two graphs: one hour-by-hour and the other minute-by-minute. Both graphs refer to viewers’ local time zones.
These two reports are arguably the most important for YouTube optimization.
Because if viewers are eating up your content with high watch times and retention rates, you know you’re on the right track. Although these metrics aren’t the end-all, be-all of your YouTube Analytics, they’re vital for fine-tuning your video strategy.
This report aggregates data from all view sources to create a comprehensive breakdown of viewer retention. These sources include the YouTube homepage, the platform’s embedded player and the mobile YouTube app. You can also compare watch time data for individual videos.
Some noteworthy watch time metrics include:
This report helps you understand whether or not your viewers are sticking to your videos.
Based on these metrics and percentages, you can start to look for common threads among your top-performing content. On the flip side, you might spot a correlation between videos with lower retention.
Beyond big-picture trends, the absolute audience retention curve lets you see which parts of the video are most popular. YouTube recommends paying close attention to the first 15 seconds of every video given that’s when most viewers will drop off. You can also use relative audience retention to see how your video compares to YouTube videos of similar length.
Retention further breaks down by organic traffic, traffic for paid skippable video ads and traffic for paid display ads. Some noteworthy metrics for the report include:
Retention metrics provide actionable insights on what you can do to improve your YouTube videos.
Perhaps your videos lack that initial “punch” in the first few seconds. Maybe you start off strong and lose viewers halfway. These details are exactly why regularly checking your YouTube Analytics is a must-do.
This report is interesting if you work with collaborators or partners. Here you can see where your videos are being played, either natively on YouTube or embedded elsewhere.
For instance, you can see how many views are generated through embedded videos on other websites and on YouTube directly. If it was viewed on YouTube, you can determine whether it was viewed from the video’s specific page or directly on a channel’s page.
Simply put, playback reporting highlights where users are viewing your videos while the traffic sources are how people find your content. The noteworthy metrics of this report include:
To clarify, the YouTube Watch Page just refers to the URL where a video was viewed (on YouTube versus embedded on a website, for example).
Another key report to keep an eye on is the Traffic Sources Report. It shows the sites and YouTube features that viewers used to find your content.
Understanding whether viewers are searching directly on YouTube, clicking Suggested Videos thumbnails or following links from social networks lets you know if your optimization and promotion strategies are paying off.
The traffic sources highlighted in this report include:
Last but not least, you’ll want to add the devices report to your list of regularly pulled reports. This report gives you information on the different devices—including PCs, mobile, tablet, game consoles and TVs—and operating systems that viewers use to watch your videos.
This data can better inform both your advertising and outreach strategies. Likewise, it also influences the type of content you’re sharing. If a majority of your views are from mobile devices, you may want to swap those 20-minute tutorials you’re creating for shorter, bite-sized content.
Analyzing “where,” “when” and “how” people are tuning in speak to the importance of a tool like Sprout Social. For example, our YouTube publishing features allow you to optimize your content and post timing based on audience engagement. Also, you can easily cross-post your video content from social to YouTube and vice-versa.
Of course, views aren’t everything when it comes to video performance. YouTube video analytics can be split into various reporting metrics include:
These metrics are prioritized based on the types of content you’re creating.
For example, a tutorial video might be used as a customer support tool where back-and-forth comments are encouraged. Meanwhile, a video published primarily for entertainment purposes will look to rack up likes and shares.
Hey, we’re all obsessed with our follower counts, right? This report is YouTube’s equivalent, outlining how you’ve gained and lost subscribers across different pieces of content, locations and dates.
In short, this report quite literally tells you which content is scoring subscribers and where they’re coming from. You can also see where you lost subscribers as well.
This report is fairly self-explanatory but it’s worth highlighting. It shows the net change of likes and dislikes in your videos. It adds up the number of likes and dislikes minus the number of likes and dislikes removed.
Your approach to engagement on YouTube should be a holistic one: if you’re not getting a high number of likes, don’t freak out. After all, viewers might be sharing or commenting more than they’re liking.
However, you should be concerned if your videos start netting dislikes out of the blue. Occasional dislikes from trolls and potential competitors might happen, but if you aren’t baiting people you shouldn’t expect a flood of hate for no reason.
This report shows you how many times your videos were added to or removed from viewers’ playlists. This includes default playlists, like “Watch Later” or “Favorites,” as well as any custom playlist.
Knowing which playlists your videos are included in is a nice added bonus. For example, if you notice that your long-form tutorial videos are frequently being queued up by others, perhaps it’s time to create even more.
Some noteworthy metrics in this report include:
This report summarizes how many people comment on your video.
Just like social comments, the YouTube comment section represents a place to go back-and-forth with your audience. It’s also somewhere to gain unfiltered insight into how people feel about your content.
If people are showing you love in the comment section, make sure you respond accordingly. Response time is critical, especially for customer support and tutorial videos.
This report shows how many times your content has been shared through the “Share” button on YouTube. as well as other sites like Facebook or Twitter.
Sharing is obviously a key component of promotion, especially if you’re publishing content such as product-centric videos or breaking news. If you’re actively scheduling and promoting your YouTube content across your social channels, this report is definitely one to watch.
Despite popular belief, videos don’t need to be a totally passive experience for viewers.
Serving as an alternative to now-discontinued Annotations, marketers can make their YouTube videos more interactive through the use of Cards. Depending on the Card type, you can add in either an image, title or call-to-action.
This report shows you how viewers are interacting with cards on your videos across desktop, mobile and tablets. Notable metrics for this report include:
YouTube has seen its fair share of “Adpocalypses” over the years. That said, businesses posting relevant, ad-friendly content should obviously keep an eye on their earnings.
If you’re a YouTube Partner with an associated AdSense account, you’ll have access to a couple of additional reports on how much you’re bringing in.
This report details earnings related to partner content, transactions, YouTube Red and ads. Some noteworthy metrics within the report include:
YouTube notes that estimated revenue in YouTube Analytics may not be identical to finalized payments due to final adjustments during the payout period.
This report determines how different ad types perform over time compared to one another. A few noteworthy metrics within the report include:
We get it: there’s a lot to take in!
But analyzing your channel’s numbers is crucial not only for improving your current content but figuring out what to create in the future.
Beyond YouTube itself, also consider how tools like Sprout Social can help you step up your video strategy.
From cross-publishing and asset management and beyond, our platform allows you to seamlessly combine your YouTube strategy with your social campaigns.
So if you haven’t already, take a test-drive of Sprout Social today to see our full suite of social features in action!
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