What are YouTube analytics?
In simple terms, analytics are the details and numbers of a website. A YouTube channel can be considered as a website from a logical point of view (just visit the homepage of a channel and look at the url). So your YouTube channel can be described in terms of numbers; like how many subscribers it has, the total number of views, which videos are getting more views, average watch time etc. Obvious as it is, analytics of a website or a YouTube channel are always changing. These data are sometimes ascending and other times are descending. If they are going down all of a sudden, then you have to find out the reason behind this.
If you never followed these data, you would never know whether or not your channel is going down. Then the only way you could know about this is your reduced AdSense earnings on a particular month. Frankly, when I first started YouTubing, I didn’t know anything about analytics for the first few months. But I was lucky, my channel only ascended in that period of time. Once I learned to observe these data, I could track the ups and downs of my channel.
Channel Dashboard: the gateway to YouTube analytics
Most new YouTubers only know how to upload videos, they don’t have a clue to what YouTube analytics are. The very first time they get to see some numbers on their channel, is through their channel dashboard. When they have uploaded a couple of videos which start to get views, they see a few numbers on the ‘Dashboard’ page of their channel. These numbers tend to increase on a daily basis and are accompanied by graphs. In most cases, the graphs are zigzag; which indicates that the numbers don’t increase steadily. Sometimes they increase, sometimes decrease. Even if the numbers increase only, the increment is not the same every day.
The above image shows part of a YouTube channel’s dashboard which is the summary of analytics for the last 28 days. It is obvious from the graphs that for a long period (almost 15-16 days) the condition of the channel only deteriorated. And then suddenly it seems to recover. So through the analysis of your dashboard or analytics page, if you realize that your channel is going down, then you can attempt to stop such decline. That’s why analytics are so important to run a YouTube channel successfully.
Here we need to clarify the ambiguity the dashboard data creates for most new YouTubers. As you can see in the above image that views have values of 64k and 35k, which are different from each other. Well, 35k means the number of views the channel got in last 28 days; whereas 64k means the total number of views the channel got since it’s inception.
Dashboard leads to analytics page
At the lower end of this demo-analytics presentation known as dashboard, lies the blue link ‘View all’. You need to click on that to see the full-fledged analytics of your channel. The page with url https://www.youtube.com/analytics?o=U where you arrive on shows these data for the last 28 days by default. Well, you can see your channel analytics for any time-frame, except for today and yesterday. Because it takes a little bit of time for the YouTube officials to process and verify a day’s data for a YouTube account and then to put it for display. In order to have analytics for any time-frame of your choice, you need to go to the upper-right corner of the screen and then select one from a drop-down list.
Upon selection, you get to see four main sections in the upper-middle portion of the page, namely: Watch time, Views, Average view duration and Your estimated revenue. Each section are summarized by a number and a graph. If you want to see the details of any section, you need to click on it; you’ll be directed to that specific page. Below these prominent four sections are a few small sections which depict how many Likes, Dislikes, Comments, Shares, Videos in playlists and Subscribers you got in your selected time-period.
Top 10 videos are listed with varying earnings on them
Below the sections and subsections mentioned above are listed top 10 videos of your chosen time-frame. They are ranked on the basis of watch time. So between two videos the one with higher watch time will be placed higher. But the irony is that a top video may not have earned more compared to a lower-ranking video. That’s why it is often seen that a video has acquired a lot of views and watch time, but the earnings on it is very little to zero; whereas an average video has earned handsome amount for you compared to the previous one.
The probable reasons for this are content and selection by advertisers. If the content of a video is not advertiser friendly, then it may not earn you any money, no matter how many views and watch time it has accumulated. Also the advertisers may not select all your videos to put ads on, even if all of them have good content and are advertiser-friendly. Here’s an article for you detailing how you can make your YouTube videos advertiser friendly:
The top 10 videos’ list shows every piece of data both in actual figure and percentage. This clearly demonstrates how much importance google/youtube puts on percentage values when it comes to analytics and ranking. That’s why it is better to upload 5-minutes videos onto your channel instead of 10-minutes videos, if you knew for sure that your average watch time would remain within 3-4 minutes. Here’s the link to an article of this blog which describes the importance of percentage watch time in the context of your YouTube channel’s ranking and growth.
Top geographies of viewers on a channel
Your Youtube videos are watched by people from around the world, unless its content is based on a language and/or culture that is too much localized. If your videos are above average standard, they are supposed to get viewers and subscribers from every corner of the globe. This is more applicable for videos described in English. Previously it was said that most YouTube viewers were from Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates. That is, people from these two countries watched YouTube videos more than any other country. But in the last couple of years this scenario entirely changed.
Upon finding about the success and earnings of YouTubers more people are being interested in this profession day by day, specially from developing countries like India, Pakistan, Bangladesh etc. While they create contents, they also stay updated about their fellow YouTubers’ and competitor’s activities. Thus they become bound to watch others’ videos, interested or not. This practice makes them kind of addicted to YouTube gradually. There are people now who watch YouTube videos, not because they are bound to, but because they feel interested and entertained. However the top geographies of a channel are depicted in percentage on YouTube analytics page.
Traffic sources: Where your videos are being watched
As you can see in the above pic, most views of the channel under consideration are from suggestions on YouTube’s watch-page and homepage. This is applicable for all channels that are not new anymore. The homepage suggestions are often referred as ‘Features’. That means when your videos are suggested by YouTube on a viewer’s YouTube homepage on their browser, then those videos are said to be featured by YouTube.
Second biggest traffic source is external websites, like social media platforms as facebook, twitter, google plus etc. Your YouTube videos might be embedded on other websites as well. People watching your videos on those websites and social medias are said to generate traffic for your channel which is termed as ‘External’. While your channel is still new, you might get most of your traffic from this particular source.
Now there might be a question as to what mean ‘Direct or unknown’. Someone watching your videos on your channel’s homepage or videos page creates traffic that is said to be ‘Direct’. Again, someone watching your videos from their browser’s history creates ‘Direct’ traffic for you. Apart from top geographies and traffic sources, another aspect to note here is the analytics of gender distribution among viewers. In all my channels, I have seen almost 94% male and the rest 6% female viewers. Nevertheless the percentage of female viewers might be a lot greater than 6%, if the majority of the traffic comes from developed counties like US, UK, Canada etc.
Also let’s analyze ‘Playback locations’ a little bit. Wherever viewers might have clicked on your videos (YouTube’s homepage/watch-page or channel’s homepage/videos-page/playlists-page), in 95% to 98% of the cases, they’ll be played back on YouTube watch page. In some rare cases (2%-5%) the videos will be played back on external websites and apps. Also the videos that are featured to new visitors on channel’s homepage are played back on nowhere else but the homepage itself. The percentage amount of these views is negligible compared to total views of the channel.
Average watch duration or audience retention in details
You surely remember about ‘average view duration’ which was mentioned earlier and described a little. Now let’s scrutinize this particular section for a channel. When you click on the ‘average view duration’ section of YouTube analytics page, you’re directed to another detailed page, where the graph might look somewhat like below:
As obvious from the above image, the channel’s condition is not exactly good, it’s kind of struggling. With an average watch duration of 56 seconds, this channel is not likely to grow and shine in near future. The most important fact is that the duration is not increasing either, it’s pretty much stuck near a steady value, or even degrading. If your channel’s condition is like this, then you have to take some drastic measures. The number one thing that you should try is uploading different sort of content. Like you can try tutorial or life hack videos, if you previously were uploading only funny videos. Surely you can upload videos based on multiple niches onto your channel and this practice isn’t going to harm the channel in any way.
The next things you should emphasize on are SEO and sharing of your YouTube videos. If your videos’ SEO scores are good, they are likely to be found by many new viewers and potential subscribers. And you have to constantly upload new videos and share them on different platforms as well. People who don’t upload regularly may lose views and watch time in a great scale. Regular upload doesn’t necessarily mean daily uploads; you can upload a video every alternate day, no problem. But the thing is that you should upload at least two videos per day while your channel is still new or struggling to sustain in a competition with others’ new channels. Once your channel is fairly established, you don’t need to share your newly uploaded or old videos on social media platforms, nor you need to upload on a strictly regular basis.