Creator Community, Social Video, Video Inspiration

How to measure the success of your YouTube videos

By Ryan Gould | Oct 16, 2018


An expert search, social and content marketer, Ryan Gould leads Elevation Marketing‘s digital strategy department, helping brands achieve their business goals, such as improving sales and market share, by developing integrated marketing strategies distinguished by research, storytelling, engagement and conversion. With a proven track record of energizing brands, engaging audiences and managing multidiscipline marketing teams, Ryan is a respected expert in achieving consistent results through creative design, thought-provoking narratives and innovative problem solving. In this guest post, he breaks down all the steps you need to know to stay on top of your YouTube videos’ success.


YouTube may be one of the oldest social video platforms, but there’s a reason it’s still thriving after all of these years. For marketers specifically, native YouTube videos are still one of the best ways for customers to find and connect with your brand. Over a third of worldwide internet users visit YouTube on a daily basis, and video watch time has grown 60% year over year since 2014. So now is a great time to add YouTube into your video marketing strategy if you haven’t already.

But how do you measure the success of your videos against the cost, time and effort it takes to create them? Luckily, it’s easier than ever with YouTube’s built-in analytics. The aim of this post isn’t to bog you down with lots of confusing statistics. We’re going to focus on the metrics you’ll need to answer three key questions:

  1. Traffic sources – Where is your traffic coming from?
  2. Audience – Who is watching your stuff?
  3. Growth – How can you build your channel and audience?

Intro to your Creator Studio

YouTube’s Creator Studio is a dashboard that enables creators to manage videos, track subscribers, and review analytics (among other things). To access the Creator Studio, just log into your account and click on your profile icon at the top right of the screen. Then select the “Creator Studio” button.

In 2019, YouTube’s Creator Studio will be redesigned and have a brand new name – YouTube Studio. Creators can currently use both the legacy Creator Studio and the beta version of YouTube Studio (features in one versus the other aren’t necessarily available in both). For the purpose of this post, we’re going to refer to the analytics dashboard in Creator Studio.

When you click on the Creator Studio button shown above, you are taken to your channel dashboard where you can review your channel’s topline performance statistics. Here’s where you can see total watch time for all your videos, views, new subscribers and estimated revenue if you’re running ads (only certified partners can run ads).

Click on “Analytics” or “view all” to see the full range of reports available to you as a Creator. Here’s where you can drill down to get insights on your traffic sources and audience.

Traffic Sources – Where is your traffic coming from?

The aggregate data listed on the main Creator Studio page and on the Analytics dashboard – while fascinating – provides the bare minimum of information such as overall watch time for your channel. However, each metric is clickable so you can drill down to the individual video watch stats.

There are several metrics that can help you understand where your visitors are coming from, including playback location and referral source. The first is on the main analytics page. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to see a list of four traffic sources: YouTube search, Suggested videos, Playlists and Other. You can click on any of these sources to get more granular information.

Here is an example of what happens when you click on “YouTube search.” You can see a list of keywords people searched for to find your videos. You can also get a breakdown of visitors by country, state and device type.

Clicking on “Traffic Sources” in the above example takes you to a report that lists all video traffic sources on YouTube so you can see how many people found you via YouTube search versus suggested videos (for example). This report includes external sources such as Facebook, Google search and Bing.

Audience – Who is watching your stuff?

The analytics dashboard includes demographic information including age and gender as well as geography. These details can help you better understand your audience so you can customize your videos to better meet their needs or perhaps create new content to reach underserved segments (e.g., women, in the case of the below example).

The above report can also help you understand how your audience is consuming your content (e.g., via video watch pages versus external websites or apps). All of the text in the above view is clickable so you can get more granular information.

Growth – How can you build your channel and audience?

You can also use YouTube analytics to help you understand what content resonates with your viewers (and what doesn’t).

Just go to your Analytics overview and scroll down to the list of videos. This list is sortable by any of the following four metrics:

  • Watch time – estimated total viewing time per video
  • Views – the number of total views to your video
  • Estimated revenue – revenue earned per video
  • YouTube premium revenue – estimated revenue from YouTube premium

Clicking on any video title will bring you to a page with data specific to that video. Here you can monitor likes, dislikes, shares, average view duration and comments along with demographic and geographic information. Understanding what videos your viewers like the most can help you plan out your video content strategy.

YouTube’s algorithms

YouTube employs an automated algorithm that determines what videos people see when they visit the site. The algorithm does its best to match the right videos to the right users, but creators can facilitate video discovery by understanding how YouTube ranks and recommends videos. This is a crucial step to getting your videos discovered by viewers.

To this end, industry experts like Brian G. Johnson and Derrel Eves have some great resources you can check out to understand everything from video optimization to how to properly upload videos.

Google Analytics – connecting the impact of YouTube videos to site traffic

Even though you have your hands full sifting through all the YouTube data available in Creator Studio, you can take your marketing intelligence to the next level by connecting your YouTube channel to your Google Analytics account. Google’s Help site provides detailed instructions on how to do this.

Once connected, you’ll get the same kind of data for your YouTube channel as you do for your website such as new versus returning visitors, content drilldown, and top referrers. Google Analytics only allows you to track activity on your channel page and doesn’t track watch pages or include video metrics. While you’ll get some additional information from Google Analytics if you decide to link it to your YouTube channel, this won’t answer the final question we want to pose…

How much traffic does YouTube refer to my website?

To answer this question, you’ll need to install Google Analytics on your primary website. Then you can navigate to the referral report (within the Acquisition category) to get a list of traffic sources.

Once there, click on “Referrals” and you’ll see a list of referring domains such as YouTube, Google, and Bing.

Google Analytics then lets you see exactly what kind of content visitors are viewing and how they found that content. Since Google Analytics enables you to set up website goals, you can also track conversions (or desired actions) coming from your YouTube videos and use that information to plan and execute additional video content.

Understanding video analytics is well worth your time

There’s no doubt that building and maintaining a thriving YouTube channel is a lot of work. But if you’re going to invest time in creating content and attracting viewers, then it’s critical to take the time to learn how to measure the success of your videos. Familiarize yourself with the available data and make it a habit to review and understand your channel and video metrics. This is the best way to gain insight about the content your viewers want to watch.

Written by
Ryan Gould

Vice President of Strategy and Marketing Services, Elevation Marketing

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