The Ultimate Guide To YouTube Analytics

How to use Youtube analytics

The way video is consumed is changing fast. A report by Cisco suggests that by 2021, 80% of all traffic on the internet will be video-generated. And when you talk about videos, you have to mention YouTube.

YouTube is great, but also weird. It can be extremely useful or completely pointless. The type of content on YouTube ranges from life-hacks and tutorials to “Lord Voldemort laughing like a retard for ten hours”.

Why am I mentioning all this? Because it shows how diverse and vast YouTube’s audience is. In case you are still wondering why it is important to include YouTube in your marketing plan, here are a few stats for you:

  • YouTube is the second largest search engine after Google.
  • YouTube users watch more than one billion videos in a day. This is more than Netflix and Facebook video combined.
  • It is available in 88 countries and can be accessed in 76 different languages.
  • People pay more attention to YouTube ads than Facebook ads.

If you are a marketer deciding whether to use YouTube or not, these numbers should give you enough proof of its reach.

Reach is important for any marketing strategy, but a platform as big as YouTube also presents huge competition. Which is why understanding how YouTube analytics work is very important.

How to use YouTube Analytics?

Understanding YouTube Analytics and Metrics is not that difficult, but finding them could be. Especially if you are a first time user. Here’s how to go about it:

  1. Log into your YouTube Account.
  2. Click on the profile icon in the top right corner. Then click on the Creator Studio option.
  3. This will redirect you to the creative studio dashboard. Here you will find some basic analytics in the middle of your screen. This dashboard can be customized.
  4. On the left side of this page, you will see a menu. Clicking on the Analytics option will redirect you to the Analytics dashboard.

YouTube analytics

The analytics option will then produce a drop down that will give you an option of various metrics to choose from.

How to set up a Brand Account?

Unlike Facebook and Instagram, you don’t need a business account to view analytics. You can also view analytics for your channel from a personal account. However, it is advisable to have a brand account if you want to create a channel for your business.

Why? Because a brand account allows you to assign multiple managers and owners to the channel. This makes the handling of a business account very easy.

Here are the steps you need to follow to create a brand account:

  1. Log in to YouTube from the account you want to use to manage your brand account.
  2. Check the menu on the left side of the window. You will find a Settings option.
  3. Clicking on the settings option will direct you to a new window. Then click on Accounts if it isn’t selected by default. Then click on Create a new channel.
  4. This will take you to a new window that will give you an option to create a brand account.

Youtube for business

Note: To create a new brand account or move your existing channel to a brand account, make sure that you are using the latest version of YouTube.

Once you create a new channel or move your existing channel to a brand account. Your existing videos, subscribers, views, interactions and your channel-layout will be transferred automatically.

However, some content may be lost in transition as it cannot be moved. This includes the channel’s Custom URL, comments made by the channel, messages(sent and received) and verification badges. If you channel contains any of this content, you will receive a notification regarding this at the time you switch.

What happens to the channel’s URL?

Once you move your personal channel to a brand account, the URL of your channel changes. For example, your personal channel’s URL is Youtube(dot)com/unboxsocial.

Everything you need to know about YouTube metrics

YouTube has registered an audience of 1.5 billion users. This indicates that the platform is a door to an ocean of potential customers. And your content could be the key to unlocking this door.

But, how do you measure the success or failure of your content? By understanding and tracking your YouTube metrics. Learning how to analyse YouTube analytics can be crucial if you want to make the most of your channel.

We have explained all the YouTube metrics that matter so that by the time you are done reading this guide, you know how to improve your video performance.

YouTube Analytics is divided into three main sections, Watch time reports, Interaction reports and Revenue reports.

A. Watch Time Reports

The watch time reports is a compilation of some of the common metrics such as views, watch time and retention. It tracks traffic from your YouTube channel and the individual videos on your channel.

Tip: By default, the data visible for each metric will be for the past 28 days. But you can change this based on your need. The overview feature for each metric contains a drop-down menu on the right side. Clicking on this drop-down menu will allow you to filter the time duration for the metric being analysed.

Watch time reports

Watch Time

Views are very important when deciding the success of YouTube video. But they alone should not be considered as a measure to success. Why? because a video earns a view as soon as it reaches 30 seconds. This does not give you enough information that you can use to make changes to your videos. Especially if they are long in duration.

For example, one of your videos is 10 minutes long. You have a strong intro, and this will keep your audience engaged. 2 minutes into the video, your content loses quality and your audience quits without completing the video. Since they crossed 30 seconds, your video will earn a view. If you measure the success of your video only on the basis of views, you won’t understand what changes does the video require.

Which is why views should be combined with Watch Time.

Watch time is the total time users have spent watching videos on your channel. This however represents the total minutes people have spent watching your videos and is not a per video breakdown.

Average view duration

This metric combines watch time and views for you. Unlike watch time, this can be measured on a per video basis. It indicates the average amount of time someone spent watching your video.

A higher average view duration indicates that users are watching your videos for a longer time. This is indicative of a good performance and will improve your channel’s rank.

Audience Retention

Audience retention measures how engaged your audience is with your content. This metric presents data such as average view duration and average percentage viewed. Retention is calculated on the basis of watched percentage. For example, if your video is two minutes long, and someone watches it for one minute, the watched percentage will be 50%.

Audience Retention is calculated in two ways. Absolute audience retention and Relative audience retention. You can view this data only when you select a video from the list below the Audience Retention graph. After you select the video, there will be a filter available above the graph. You can use this filter to switch between the two audience retention metrics.

Audience retention on Youtube

Absolute Audience Retention: Absolute audience report represents exactly when are the viewers dropping off. The curve denotes the number of viewers for every moment as compared to total number of views.

This is very useful as you can analyse at which point in the video are viewers dropping off. Based on this you can make changes to your content. If you see a similar pattern in all your videos, you might need to change your content strategy or target a different audience.

Tip: Paying close attention to the first 15 seconds of your video can tell if you need to change your introduction strategy.

Relative Audience Retention: This report compares the retention rate of your video with other YouTube videos similar in length. Video duration is the only factor it takes into consideration. Which is why it is not that useful in terms of improving your content.

A higher graph indicates that more viewers kept watching your video as compared to other videos in the same timeframe.


It is extremely important to understand your audience while creating your video strategy. The demographics metric allows you to analyse the age, gender and geographical location of your viewers.

Why is this important? It can help you make changes to your content based on the type of your audience. It can also help you to target a different audience.

Let’s consider that you are a fashion blogger who creates videos for teenagers and provides fashion tips that are suitable for them. According to the demographics, you realise that a huge section of your audience is also from the middle age section. Ranging from 30-40-year-olds. Now that you know about this, you can create content that would also be useful for them.

You can also view geographical statistics under this metric. This can help you to create country specific videos in future for that particular audience. Or add subtitles so that your message is conveyed properly in case there are language barriers.

Playback Locations

Playback Locations can help you to analyse where your content is being viewed. Whether people are finding it on their feed or searching for it. It also tells you whether they are viewing the content directly on YouTube or via different websites.

how to track youtube analytics

The views you receive are divided between YouTube channel page, YouTube watch page, embedded videos and mobile devices.

By reviewing Playback Location, you can realize whether your videos are more popular on YouTube or off it. And based on this you can optimize your content accordingly.

Traffic Sources

While Playback Locations help you to see where your videos are viewed, Traffic Sources will tell you how are people finding your videos.

This can help you to take into consideration which keywords or specific terms are working and which aren’t. This can make the SEO part of your process easier.

How to measure youtube analytics

For example, you can see whether people found your videos via organic sources such as YouTube suggested videos or via paid sources such as YouTube ads. Once you know where you are getting your traffic from, you can focus more in that area.


This metric tells you which device are your viewers using to consume content. Are they watching videos on a desktop, mobile phone, smart TVs or a gaming console.

Analyzing this is important as based on the audience, you will realize whether you need to optimize your content for a particular device. For example, mobile viewers might like videos that are short in duration. Desktop users might not like videos that are vertical in format, which is well suited for mobile users.

Reports suggest that video consumption on YouTube is increasing for OTT(over the top) devices such as Apple TV and Amazon fire stick. Which is why it’s better to find a good balance that will satisfy viewers from all platforms.

Live Streaming

Live streaming metrics are visible only for 48 to 72 hours after your live streaming ends. It shows peak concurrent views and all your chat messages. This allows you to track at which point was the audience most engaged during the live stream. There are no interaction or revenue reports available for live streams.

Note: Despite the limited data available under YouTube Analytics, YouTube provides other metrics that are visible only during the live stream. These metrics will be visible only when you are live on the platform.


YouTube has a huge presence around the globe. Which is why a lot of creators use YouTube tools to translate their content. If you do that, you can use the translations report to analyse the performance of localized content.

It tells you how your reach and discoverability has been impacted after making your content available to other language audiences. It also indicates whether the audience is watching the original video or the translated version of it.

B. Interactions Report

According to a report, viewers retain 95% of a message when they watch a video, as compared to only 10% when reading in text. This shows how important it is it create content that is not only fun but also engaging.

The interaction reports include metrics that will tell you how engaging your content is. Metrics like subscribers, likes and dislikes, comments and sharing, all directly tell you whether users like your content or not.

track engagement on Youtube


Tracking your subscribers report can be very important in terms of checking your progress, but not so much in terms of altering content. You can see where you are getting your subscribers from and how many subscribers did you gain or lose in a given time period.

There are three datasets under this report:

  • Subscribers: This tells you how many subscribers did you gain and retain over a period of time.
  • Subscribers Gained: This tells you how many subscribers you gained in the selected time period. Even if they unsubscribed immediately.
  • Subscribers Lost: Number of unsubscribers for the selected time period.

As the number of your subscribers increase, your brand will grow and there is a greater chance of exposure. You can also watch this stat on a per video basis and see which video gained more subscribers.

Note: The subscribers data on YouTube Analytics might be different than the subscribers number on your channel. YouTube Analytics are delayed by 48 hours and hence don’t show real time numbers.

Likes and dislikes

Your viewers can express their feelings regarding the video with one click. Understanding your audience and what they like is the first step in creating engaging content. Tracking this metric allows you to see which video has gained more likes and based on that alter your content strategy.

Dislikes are a bad indicator for any channel but it does not actually reflect the quality of your video. For example, some videos such as opinionated ones are bound to dissatisfy some people. This does not reflect the quality of the video. To understand what your audience really thinks, you should measure comments with likes and dislikes.


Although likes and dislikes are a quicker method to measure your audience’s reaction, comments give you a better understanding. Below the graph in this report, you can select the video you want to see the data for. The data shown includes the number of comments the video received but the comments themselves are not visible.

Which is why you should monitor the comments section under your videos regularly. This is also a good opportunity to interact with your audience. Replying to an audience will boost your engagement metrics.

Tip: You should not ignore negative comments as customer service is very important. There might be only one dissatisfied customer but all of your subscribers act as spectators.


There is a reason why all YouTubers ask their audience to like, share and subscribe at the end of the video. This is because sharing is one of the most important metrics that measure engagement.

What is it important to measure shares? Because someone liked your video enough to go and share it with someone. This is also important for SEO purposes. A higher number of shares indicates a higher number of backlinks. This improves the chances of your channel getting a higher rank.

Clicking on the Sharing Service filter below the graph will allow you to measure your social shares. You can see when viewers are sharing your video and via which app or social media platform do they share it the most.

Track audience on Youtube

Note: YouTube measures only those shares that are generated via the share button available next to the video. The actual number of shares you receive could be greater than that.

Videos in Playlist

This report indicates the number of times any of your videos has been added to someone’s playlist. This could be default playlists such as Favorites or Watch later, or a new playlist which the user might have created on his own.

The visual representation of this metric is quite similar to the Subscribers report. There are three data sets to choose from:

  • Videos in playlist: Indicates the total number of times your videos are included in the user’s playlist.
  • Videos added to playlist: Indicates the total number of times videos were added to a playlist in a given time period. Even if they were removed shortly.
  • Videos removed from playlists: Indicates the number of times your videos were removed from viewer’s playlist.
  • This report was formerly known as the Favorites report. Earlier it used to focus only on Favorites but now considers all the playlists a viewer might use.


YouTube annotations are CTAs that appear at specific moments in the video and encourage users to take specific actions. These can be in the form of clickable images, links or texts.

Under this report in YouTube Analytics, you can measure the performance of your Annotations. The data available to you is in the form of Impressions, clickable impressions, click through rate, close rate and clicks.

YouTube discontinued the annotations editor in May 2017. This means that you can’t add new or edit existing annotations. You can only delete them. Which is why the data visible in this report will be only for those existing annotations.


Cards were launched by YouTube in order to replace them with Annotations. They are meant to increase interactivity and boost engagement. Cards are used as CTAs and usually appear at the end of the videos. They are used to inform users about relative videos or other merchs or products. They come with clickable links.

Under the cards report, you can measure the performance of these cards. The metrics available are:

  • Card teasers shown: Number of times card teasers were visible. They can have multiple impressions per view.
  • Card teaser clicks: Number of clicks on a card teaser.
  • Card clicks: Number of clicks on an individual card.
  • Clicks per card shown: It is the CTR of each card.

C. Revenue Reports

The revenue reports are available only for YouTube partners. In order to be a partner, a channel must satisfy certain criteria.

  • The channel must reach 4,000 hours in watch time.
  • The channel must have 1,000 subscribers.

As soon as the channel meets these requirements, it will be reviewed by YouTube for the partnership program.

Once they become partners, they are eligible to earn money from the ads served on their videos. They also need to associate an AdSense account in order to earn money.

The two metrics available under this report are:

  • Revenue
  • Ad Rates


You can use this metric to keep a track of your earnings on YouTube. The two stats to track are:

  • Estimated revenue
  • Estimated ad revenue

You can only view your estimated earnings on YouTube analytics and not your finalized earnings. The finalized earnings are visible in your Adsense account report.

Below the revenue graph, you will find filters based on which you can view data based on region, time or on a per video basis. You can use this data to see your earning pattern and make changes to your strategy based on that. For Example, if you notice that you are earning more on a certain day during the week. You should try to post more during that period.

Ad Rates

Similar to revenue, this metric is also only available for YouTube Partners. This metric provides data on YouTube Ad Revenue, estimated monetised playbacks, CPMs and ad impressions.

You can use the ad rates report to compare how different ads are performing over a period of time. Ad rates and revenue report don’t show the same numbers. Ad rates display the amount advertisers pay to run the ads. Whereas revenue reports show the amount you will be paid.

How to improve your YouTube strategy?

Now that you know which metrics matter and how to analyse YouTube analytics. It is time to put that knowledge into use. Using the analytics you can make changes to your channel that will help you to attract more users and indefinitely, rank higher.

Creating more engaging content on YouTube could propel your brand. Here are some tips you can use in order to strengthen your position on the world’s second most visited search engine.

Monitor your Real-time reports

YouTube Analytics take 24 to 48 hours in order to update their stats. This delay is because YouTube tries to filter out spammy and low-quality views from the total. This does not have a major impact in the long run but what if you launched a video and want to see how viewers respond to it instantly?

This is where real-time reports come in handy.

Utilise/Include keywords

Keywords are an essential part of SEO and help you rank higher. This holds true for YouTube too. Before you publish your videos, it will be advisable to do a keyword research to see which words are most suitable for your video. Based on the keywords you find, you can use them in your video title and description.

Keyword research can also help you strengthen your future strategy. You can see which words are most searched or most relevant and create videos around those keywords.


Marketing on any platform or through any channel can be very difficult. But analytics can ease this process for you. It tells you how close or far you are from reaching your target. And with a platform like YouTube, that is so dynamic and competitive, it is extremely important for you to track your success.

Let us know which of the above metrics will you use the most.

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