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How to master your data with YouTube Analytics

By Lauren Vilders

Audience Development Coordinator

This is part of an ongoing series sharing tips from the YouTube Creator Playbook, a resource of best practices and tips you can start using on your channel and videos right away.

Understanding the data behind your YouTube channel can mean the difference between a good channel and a great one, and we’re working to make it easy for you with YouTube Analytics. Since launching video analytics features in 2008, we’ve worked to build a powerful tool that can help you understand your channel, content, and audience on YouTube.

Here are three things that you should do today with YouTube Analytics:

Find out what keeps people watching: Wonder which specific points in your videos are most interesting to your audience, or, where their interest is falling off? The two types of Audience Retention graphs - Absolute Retention and Relative Retention - analyze audience retention on a per video basis.

  • Absolute Retention shows viewer retention as a percentage of total views. Remember, rewinding and re-watching can result in values higher than 100%, while fast-forwarding or abandoning the video will push the graph downwards. (Check out the YouTube Analytics graph for Barely Political’s “Avengers Therapy! Session #15” video below. Six seconds in, absolute retention is 92%, and it stays fairly consistent throughout the video. It’s typical to see drop offs at the end of videos during credits, or other footage when the main content ends. As always, try to keep viewer engagement up as long as possible.)

  • Relative Retention shows how your video compares to videos of a similar length. You should always strive to create engaging content for your viewers, since watch time is a key indicator for suggested and recommended videos. Try to understand why certain videos keep your audience engaged and why others are poor performers, then make programming and creative decisions based on your assessments.

Learn how people find you: How do your viewers ultimately find your YouTube videos, playlists, or channel? YouTube Analytics’ Traffic Sources provides a detailed look at how your viewers discover your content on a channel and per-video level. It shows you the top traffic sources that contributed to the largest percentage of total views. If you’re trying out a new metadata strategy, thumbnail optimization, or blog outreach initiative, track how Traffic Sources change over time. For example, if you notice that Annotations within a specific video cause a big spike in views, you should take a closer look and try to replicate those best practices in other videos.

Figure out what makes people subscribe: The Subscription report shows which videos drive the most subscriptions, showing what resonates with your most loyal followers. Building up your subscriber base is crucial to audience development on YouTube, so understanding this metric is really important. Examine the dates or videos where there was a high gain or loss of subscribers, and look into why this is happening. Identify key content trends that drive up your subscriptions, and then apply those success strategies elsewhere.

Check out the Creator Playbook for lots of additional information about YouTube Analytics.