Are you using YouTube to upload and share videos as part of your social media strategy? If so, you need to know who’s watching and how you can increase views and engagement.

Your content strategy is about more than just numbers, but the key to building a successful YouTube Channel requires you to understand who your audience is and how they’re engaging with your content. That’s where YouTube Analytics comes in.

YouTube Analytics can tell you a lot about your audience, including who they are, what they like and what kind of content you should create. To help you improve your overall video strategy, we’ve created a guide so you can better familiarize yourself with YouTube Analytics.

YouTube Analytics: General Reports

To access your analytics, visit, or log into your account and follow these steps:

  1. Click on your account icon and select Creator Studio.
  2. On the left side of the screen, select Analytics.

You’ll notice YouTube Analytics are divided into a few different categories: Overview, Realtime, Earnings, Watch Time and Engagement. We’ll look more closely at each one below:

The Overview Report

The Overview report is a high-level summary of how your content is performing on YouTube across the last 28 days. This is one of the most important sections for businesses because it provides you with demographic data for your audience. This data is critical to ensuring your target audience is being reached. Geography in particular is important, especially for local businesses, as roughly four out of five YouTube views will come from other nations besides the US.

overview report

Overview also provides you with an at-a-glance look at performance metrics, such as watch time, views and earnings, as well as engagement metrics like comments, shares, likes, dislikes and favorites. It’s really just a glimpse at your overall performance. We’ll take a closer look at each of these areas shortly.

The Realtime Report

YouTube’s Realtime report shows you an estimate of view data for your last five videos, giving you insight into the performance of your recently published content. Based on this data, you might decide to change up your promotion strategy. If something is under performing, maybe you’re not doing enough cross-promotion on your other channels or your targeting is off.

youtube analytics real time report

The Realtime report will show you two graphs: hour-by-hour and minute-by-minute. The first is available for a sliding window of two days, while the latter is available for a sliding window of one hour. Both graphs refer to the local time zone of the viewer.

YouTube Analytics: Earnings Reports

If you’re a YouTube Partner with an associated AdSense account, you’ll have access to a couple additional reports around your earnings.

The Estimated Earnings Report

The Estimated Earnings report can be used to see:

  • Earnings-related details for partner content.
  • Earnings-related details at channel and video levels.
  • Ad earnings.
  • Earnings derived from transactions, like paid content and Fan Funding.
  • Earnings derived from YouTube Red.

Noteworthy metrics:

  1. Ad Earnings: The total estimated earnings (net revenue) from all Google-sold advertising sources for the selected date range and region.
  2. Earnings: The total estimated earnings (net revenue) from all Google-sold advertising sources as well as from non-advertising sources for the selected date range and region.
  3. Red Partner Revenue: The total estimated revenue earned from YouTube Red subscriptions for the selected report dimensions. It reflects earnings from both music and non-music content.

The Ad Performance Report

The Ad Performance report provides you with data on gross revenue, estimated monetized playbacks, CPMs and ad impressions for the ads that run on your content. Businesses can use this report to determine how different ad types are performing over time compared to one another.

Noteworthy metrics:

  1. Gross Revenue: The estimated gross revenue, in USD, from all Google-sold or DoubleClick-partner-sold advertising for the selected date range and region.
  2. Impression Based CPM: The estimated gross revenue per thousand ad impressions.
  3. Impressions: The number of verified ad impressions served.
  4. Monetized Playbacks: The number of instances when a viewer played your video and was shown at least one ad impression. A monetized playback is counted if a viewer is shown a preroll ad but quits watching the ad before your video ever starts.
  5. Playback Based CPM: The estimated gross revenue per thousand playbacks.

YouTube Analytics: Watch Time Reports

The best thing you can do as a creator is make videos that people will want to watch. Success requires a holistic approach, and watch time alone shouldn’t be the only metric you track. Under this category of reports, you’ll find more information on audience retention, demographics, playback location, traffic and devices.

The Watch Time Report

The Watch Time report collects data from, the embedded player and mobile YouTube apps to give you better insight into watch time and views. You can use the tabs under the graph to filter the data by content type, geography, date, subscription status, YouTube product and subtitles.

youtube watch time geography example

You can also see or compare data for specific videos, use unique cookies to estimate individual viewers, see data by type of viewer or location, view by most-watched date or change the range or time metric.

Noteworthy metrics:

  1. Average View Percentage: The average percentage of a video watched during a video playback.
  2. Average View Duration: The average length, in seconds, of video playback.
  3. Estimated Minutes Watched: The number of minutes that users watched videos for the specified channel, content owner, video or playlist.
  4. Uniques: The number of unique viewers that watched a video. This is calculated based on the number of unique cookies and will overcount users who are using multiple devices or browsers.
  5. Viewer Percentage: The percentage of viewers who were logged in while watching the video or playlist.
  6. Views: The number of legitimate views for your channels or videos.
  7. Watch Time: The amount of time that a viewer has watched a video.

The Audience Retention Report

The Audience Retention report gives you an overall measure of how well your video keeps its audience. It’s a great way to see how much of your video your viewers are watching before leaving. If this number is lower than you thought, it might be time to change the way you make your videos or freshen up the content.

Also in this report is an interactive map that shows where your video has been watched. The darker areas mean that people in that location are watching longer than those in lighter areas.

Interactive map

You can use the Audience Retention report in a couple of different ways. For starters, the absolute audience retention curve lets you see which parts of the video are most popular. YouTube recommends paying close attention to the first 15 seconds of every video because that’s when viewers are most likely to drop off. You can also use relative audience retention to see how your video compares to YouTube videos of similar length.

You can also view audience retention by organic traffic, traffic for paid skippable video ads and traffic for paid display ads.

Noteworthy metrics:

  1. Organic Traffic: Video views that are the direct result of user intention. Traffic is considered organic if a viewer takes an action like searching for a video, clicking on a suggested video or browsing a channel.
  2. Skippable Video Ad: Views for ads that are auto-played before a video and that viewers can skip after five seconds.
  3. Display Ads: Views in which the user played the video from a display ad, including ads shown in search results or on other video watch pages.

The Playback Locations Report

The Playback Locations report is particularly interesting if you work with collaborators or partners. This report shows you where your videos are being played. For instance, you can see how many views are generated through embedded videos on other websites and on youTube directly. And if it was viewed on YouTube, you can determine whether it was viewed from the video’s specific page or directly on a channel’s page.

Essentially, playback reporting is where users are viewing your videos, while the traffic sources is how people find your content. We’ll explain traffic sources next, but here’s a great video to differentiate the two.

Noteworthy metrics:

  1. YouTube Watch Page: The video was watched on YouTube from the video’s specific page. It’s the exact URL where you can watch the video on YouTube.
  2. YouTube Channel Page: These are views directly on a channel page. For example,
  3. YouTube Other: Certain browsers don’t let YouTube detect where on the platform the video was viewed. Most likely these views occurred on the YouTube watch page.
  4. Embedded in External Websites and Apps: How often viewers watched your video when embedded on another website or app that embeds your videos.

The Traffic Sources Report

Another key report to keep an eye on is the Traffic Sources report. It shows the sites and YouTube features that viewers used to find your content. Knowing whether viewers are searching directly on YouTube, clicking Suggested Videos thumbnails or following links from social networks will let you know if your content strategy is working.

Traffic sources include:

  • YouTube search
  • Suggested videos
  • Browse features
  • Playlists
  • YouTube channels
  • YouTube advertising
  • Video cards and annotations
  • Notifications
  • Other YouTube features
  • External sources
  • Direct or unknown sources

The Devices Report

Last but not least, you’ll want to add the Devices report to your list of regularly pulled reports. More than 50% of YouTube traffic comes from mobile devices. This report gives you information on the difference devices—including computer, mobile, tablet, game consoles and TVs—and operating systems that viewers used to watch your videos.

youtube analytics device report

This data can better inform both your advertising and outreach strategies. It can also influence the type of content you’re sharing. If a majority of your views are coming from mobile devices, those 10-plus minute tutorials, for instance, might need to be shortened for easier viewing.

YouTube Analytics: Engagement Reports

In addition to views, you’ll want to know how people are interacting with your videos. That’s where YouTube’s engagement reports can help. On YouTube, engagement is measured through a variety of factors:

  • Likes
  • Dislikes
  • Comments
  • Subscriptions
  • Sharing

You might want to prioritize these based on your business objectives or type of video you’re sharing. For example, a tutorial video might be used as a customer support tool where comments are encouraged, while a video published for entertainment purposes will want to rack up likes and shares.

The Subscribers Report

Subscribers Report

One of the more interesting reports to follow is the Subscribers report. This report shows how you’ve gained and lost subscribers across different content, locations and dates. It’ll help you better understand which videos were better at driving subscriptions and identify locations where your content is performing particularly well.

Noteworthy metrics:

  1. Subscribers Gained: The number of times that users subscribed to a channel.
  2. Subscribers Lost: The number of times that users unsubscribed from a channel.

The Likes & Dislikes Report

Likes Dislikes Report

This report is fairly self explanatory, but it’s worth highlighting. The Likes and Dislikes report shows the net change of likes and dislikes in your videos. It adds up the number of likes and dislikes minus the number of likes and dislikes removed.

Your approach to engagement on YouTube should be a holistic one, so if you’re not getting a high number of likes, don’t fret. Viewers might be sharing or commenting more than they’re liking. You do want to watch out if your videos are getting a substantial number of dislikes, however. You can’t please everyone, so don’t worry if you get a couple of random dislikes. But if your videos are consistently racking up the thumbs-down, consider reaching out to your audience to get a handle on the problem.

Noteworthy metrics:

  1. Likes: The number of times that users indicated they liked a video by giving it a positive rating.
  2. Dislikes: The number of times that users indicated they disliked a video by giving it a negative rating.

The Videos in Playlists Report

Playlists Report

The Videos in Playlists report replaced the Favorites report, which used to tell you how many times viewers marked your video as a favorite and how many removed it from their favorites. The new report shows you how many times your videos were added to or removed from viewers’ playlists. This includes default playlists, like Watch Later or Favorites, as well as any custom playlist.

Knowing which playlists your videos are added to can be very helpful. This could inspire content for future videos or at the very least, give you a better idea of the type of content your viewers are interested in. Additionally, knowing how much time viewers spend in one of your playlists lets you know how successful it. Use that information moving forward with new playlists.

Noteworthy metrics:

  1. Average Time in Playlist: The estimated average amount of time, in minutes, that a user viewed videos in a playlist after the playlist was initiated. This only includes playlist views that occur on the Web.
  2. Playlists Starts: The number of times that viewers initiated playback of a playlist. This only includes playlist views that occur on the Web.
  3. Videos Added to Playlists: The number of times videos were added to any YouTube playlists, including the video owner’s playlists or other channels’ playlists.
  4. Videos Removed From Playlists: The number of times videos were removed from any YouTube playlists.
  5. Views Per Playlist Start: The average number of video views that occurred each time a playlist was initiated. This only includes playlist views that occur on the Web.

The Comments Report

Comments Report

The Comments report summarizes how many people comment on your video.

Comments are a great way to interact with viewers. We know you’re focused on creating excellent video content, but make sure you devote some time to respond to people who leave comments. Response time is critical, especially on customer support and tutorial videos.

The Sharing Report

Sharing Report

The Sharing report shows how many times your content has been shared through the Share button on YouTube, as well as other sites like Facebook, Twitter or Tumblr.

Sharing is key, especially if you’re publishing new product videos or exciting announcements. According to Nielson, 84% of consumers say they trust recommendations from family, colleagues and friends about products.

The Annotations Report

Annotations Report

The Annotations report provides you with information on the performance of your video annotations, including clickthrough rates and close rates.

Annotations encourage viewers to take action while watching one of your videos. When used correctly, they can improve engagement and viewership which is why you need to make sure you’re implementing them correctly. The data available in this report should influence how you incorporate annotations into future videos.

Noteworthy metrics:

  1. Annotation Clicks: The number of clicked annotations.
  2. Annotation Clickable Impressions: The number of annotations that appeared and could be clicked.
  3. Annotation Clickthrough Rate: The ratio of annotations that viewers clicked to the total number of clickable annotation impressions.
  4. Annotation Closable Impressions: The number of annotations that appeared and could be closed.
  5. Annotation Close Rate: The ratio of annotations that viewers closed to the total number of annotation impressions.
  6. Annotation Closes: The number of closed annotations.
  7. Annotation Impressions: The total number of annotation impressions.

The Cards Report

Cards Report

Another way to make your YouTube videos more interactive is through the use of cards. Depending on the card type, you’ll be able to add in an image, title and call-to-action.

The Cards report shows you how viewers are interacting with cards on your videos across desktop, mobile and tablets.

Noteworthy metrics:

  1. Card Clicks: The number of times that cards were clicked.
  2. Card Click Rate: The clickthrough rate for cards, which is calculated as the ratio of card clicks to card impressions.
  3. Card Impressions: The number of times cards were displayed. When the card panel is opened, a card impression is logged for each of the video’s cards.
  4. Card Teaser Click Rate: The clickthrough rate for card teasers, which is calculated as the ratio of clicks on card teasers to the total number of card teaser impressions.
  5. Card Teaser Clicks: The number of clicks on card teasers. Card icon clicks are attributed to the last teaser displayed to the user.
  6. Card Teaser Impressions: The number of times that card teasers were displayed. A video view can generate multiple teaser impressions.

Get Hands On

The best way to become more comfortable using YouTube Analytics is to get hands on with it. Log in and start clicking around. Talk with your team about which social media reporting will be the most useful in achieving your goals, and discuss who will be in charge for monitoring them.

If your analytics leave something to be desired, review the metrics with your team and identify problem areas you can work on. This data will guide you in deciding which content to focus on so pay close attention to what’s working and what isn’t.