A Step-by-Step Guide to Understanding YouTube Analytics

YouTube channels require serious elbow grease to get right.

Measuring the success of a YouTube strategy, however, can seem like an entirely different ball game. Interpreting numbers and graphs likely is a marginal wheelhouse for most marketers. It can appear daunting. Here are several tips to consider when approaching YouTube Analytics.

Set a Goal

As it is with nearly every PR initiative, it's best to set your goal(s) first. Success can’t be measured without goals. Here, the goal(s) should drive content strategy, whether that's increasing brand awareness, views, clicks, inbound links or social media shares. Depending on how video is used in your marketing material, the goals could include increasing the open rate on emails, or improving conversions on a landing page.

Focus on Key Metrics

The YouTube Analytics dashboard offers an overview of how an account’s videos have performed during the past 28 days. This timeframe can be adjusted via a drop-down menu in the upper right-hand corner. The overview report displays top-line metrics, such as performance and engagement metrics, demographics, traffic sources and popular content.

Assess Watch Time and Audience Retention

Watch time is the total in minutes that audiences have spent viewing a channel’s content, as a whole and per video. It also shows what video content viewers actually are consuming, rather than clicking on something and quickly navigating away from it. Watch time is one of YouTube’s ranking factors, meaning that a video with a higher watch time likely will rank higher in search results.

Retention rate refers to the average percentage of a video that audiences watch per view. The higher the retention rate, the more viewers remain to watch a video until the end. Placing cards and end screens in videos is a great way to improve this metric.

Understand Traffic Sources

The traffic sources report shows how viewers find a channel’s content. It provides great insight into where a brand should focus its promotional effort; if more viewers find the channel through Twitter than through Facebook, for example, it might be best to direct resources at the former platform.

Unpack Audience Demographics

The demographics report outlines age and gender of an audience, and helps brands better understand and assess their established buyer personas.

Interrogate Engagement Reports

Engagement reports help a brand learn what content is resonating best with audiences. This metric measures what viewers are clicking, sharing, commenting and promoting; it also helps brands optimize future calls-to-action.

As the world’s second-largest search engine, YouTube remains an essential platform through which brands can reach audiences. Measuring the success of digital marketing at the site, then, should be a top priority.

Ronn Torossian is CEO of 5WPR