Understanding Youtube Metrics

Ryan Larkin
By Ryan Larkin

Admit it, you’ve found yourself in a YouTube wormhole at some point in your life. The original search was something a coworker mentioned you should take a look at and, somehow, you’ve seen everything from dancing cats to flying cars and more. YouTube opens up a new universe to explore.

Video marketing is a force to be reckoned with. According to Quintly, a social media analytics blog, as of last year, we’ve seen a world of change where online marketing revolves around video creation, promotion, and strategic analysis. YouTube has tools similar to Google Analytics to “provide resourceful insights on the key performance metrics of a video’s marketing success or failure metrics over a period of time”.

When you’re reading the comment section of a rising star’s cover of your favorite song, you’ll stumble across comments like, “This deserves more views!” and “Big Little Lies brought me here!” You’ll probably realize that the number of comments usually dictates tons and tons of views. People are more likely to feel inclined to leave a comment if engagement levels appear high.

RelatedYouTube – Basics

Social classes have a whole new meaning in this day and age. As a consumer of media, you tend to judge on the amount of exposure others’ media attracts. We’ve become so consumed with how far our own arms can stretch out to reach people, as well. It’s become almost part of our human nature. Crazy stuff, right? Oh, come on, don’t act like you didn’t know. Well, something that you perhaps don’t know is that there are many other ways to track your Youtube success besides the traditional gander at view count.

 Audits

It’s important to know what you’re working with. Jeremy Vest with Social Media Examiner suggests starting with a general audit of your YouTube channel: “Deep audits have a way of revealing hidden tricks and details in the YouTube algorithm. You never know when you might find a pattern you can emulate in the future to give your YouTube channel an edge. Audits also give you an opportunity to step back from your content and take an objective look at what’s working and what’s not. Most people think it’s enough to just mentally keep track of things like subscribers and views, but the real masters of the platform perform deep audits on a regular basis.”

Views

Of course, views are the simplest way to measure your YouTube video’s success. YouTube even provides interactive graphs that help you visually identify the spikes in views and how they correspond to the release of the video. Interestingly enough, though, a view only counts if a user watches at least 30 seconds of a video, so make sure what you’re launching is engaging from the very start.

Ads within videos actually collect views the second they are clicked. If you’re running an in-stream ad, where the ad lies within the video, make sure your video is short and sweet in order to get the viewer clickin’.

Audience Retention

In views lies a drop-off point. This metric is located under Audience Retention and identifies at which point in your video the audience discontinues watching by clicking away from the video. You’ll then want to identify the “played to percentage” metric. Users exposed to a 30-second video will project more appealing numbers considering you’d be essentially getting views (and clicks) for free. People’s attention spans aren’t very long, so the longer the video, the lower the impression’s percentage is. Content is also an imperative factor in how long your viewers stay tuned in. Don’t bore your audience. Are you still with me here?

Earned Actions 

Another YouTube metric falls under the Earned Actions category. Hey, great job! You’re super cool and entertaining. The people love ya! You’ve gathered a pretty substantial following by adding additional outlets to the mix by sharing your video across other social media platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. You’ve received – no wait, earned! – shares, subscribers, and likes. Your persona in the digital realm is growing. You can keep track of the change of your subscribers throughout a specific period of time as you’re correspondingly posting videos. Measure the growth or loss of subscribers and adjust your content and material accordingly.

View-Through Conversions

View-Through Conversions, AKA VTCs, occur when a video and ad is technically viewed, but not to the point where you’ll be billed for the view. This is not too shabby because the viewer discontinued watching the video before you’re charged for the ad; yet, if your video was succinct, they may have absorbed enough information for it to have left an impression. The subconscious is a beautiful thing.

RelatedYouTube SEO: How to Rank YouTube Videos

When viewers leave before you’d like them to, it’s referred to as a bounce rate. Typically, bounce rate is when the browser leaves your website from the landing page without taking a virtual look around the rest of your site; however, it is applicable to viewers and your videos, as well. Google Analytics has metrics that measure how many times bounces and entrances occur on a page during a given time. Bounce rate is a powerful way to determine if your content is relevant to your viewers.

According to Avinash Kaushik, an analytics expert, any bounce rate over 35% is “a cause for concern” and “anything above 50% is worrying.” A few ways to adjust the bounce rate include changing keywords and marketing channels to redirect the target to higher value traffic. Revisit the keywords that are currently in place and determine whether or not they are producing traffic in your favor or not. It could also be beneficial to adjust your call to action to better target a more relevant audience. Luckily, you can create popup links on your YouTube video that can be edited and redirect your viewers.

Session Duration 

Furthermore, Google Analytics supports a report called ‘Time on Page’ or ‘Session Duration’. This is simply the average amount of time users spend on a page. A page load is basically known as a ‘hit’ and Google Analytics creates a timestamp when a hit occurs. (Where were you on the night of the 23rd at 5:05 pm? Google Analytics knows). Bouncers aside, Google Analytics looks at the differences between the first and last hit to measure the periods of time.

The only issue with this method is that the last time-stamp records what time the page was loaded, not necessarily how long was spent after that time. However, this mainly pertains to web pages and is not exactly applicable to your YouTube channel.

Engagement 

Let’s take it full circle and revisit the comment section. YouTube is famous for this particular feature, after all. Engagement Metrics measures user’s likes, comments, and shares of your video. This is a pretty obvious, yet fun, way to check out how your video is doing. It’s more interactive and definitely interesting to see what your audience is writing about your content. What’s the point in having tons of followers if your content doesn’t persuade your viewers to comment and share?

The comment section gives your audience a voice. They want to share their opinion and usually would really appreciate a reply. The comment section opens up a forum for communication. Viewers’ shares increase visibility and assessability; thus, giving your channel an opportunity to grow. Having great content pushes your audience to comment and share, so be sure your messages are clear, accurately targeted, and inviting.

So, say it with me folks, “Video length and content!” Videos thrive under the perfect circumstances. There is a magical formula, though. Let’s say it once more, “Video length and content,” but wait, there’s more:

The title of your video and keywords associated with the video are important hooks to lure in your audience. We’re just trying to watch 30-minute loops of My Heart Will Go On, please don’t play games and title your videos appropriately. According to Quintly, “Uploading a video without keywords and tags insertion or using longer titles may affect discoverability of a video and in turn, reduce its organic views.”

Next, the preview thumbnail should be clear and readable and attractive to the scrolling eye. Production value is also a biggie. Are you filming with your Razr from 2007? Your viewers do not want to feel like they’re at the optometrist. (Is it clearer, 1 or 2?) You’re playing with the big kids now – step up your game. Time of the day and day of the week counts. Listen, don’t post at 4 am on a Wednesday night, okay? Finally, promotion. Invest in yourself and see the return.

Wrapping Up 

Marketers heavily rely on their observations based on collected analytics in order to revise their existing marketing strategies or to create a whole new marketing approach. Creating content that will gather the highest organic audience retention is key. Getting there is the challenge, but once you understand the process, the results can create waves.

Ryan Larkin is the Paid Media Technical Director at Power Digital Marketing who has 5+ years of industry experience. Ryan has spoken at several events including Media Leaders' Digital Growth Summit, Google's annual E-commerce event in Venice, and San Diego State's Entrepreneur Society's annual Conference in 2016. Ryan is currently focused on growing a variety of online paid media accounts and team members, with an emphasis on audience segmentation and shopping feed optimizations.