10 Powerful YouTube Analytics to Help You Grow Your Channel

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Do you use YouTube Analytics?

If not, you’re missing out on a number of opportunities.

Opportunity to occupy a prominent position in YouTube search results. Opportunity to get your content featured in suggested videos. Opportunity to become a recognized YouTube creator.

And trust us, you don’t want to miss all those opportunities. Especially since people around the world watch one billion hours of video on YouTube every day—and these videos make up an incredible 37% of all mobile internet traffic.

That’s why we’ve put together this guide on 10 powerful metrics that you can track in YouTube Analytics.

Understanding YouTube analytics data can help you make impactful decisions that massively improve your YouTube video and channel performance.

Sound good? Let’s jump in.

How do I access Youtube analytics?

First things first: To access your YouTube Analytics dashboard, click your profile picture at the top right of any YouTube page, and then click “YouTube Studio (beta).”

Then you’ll be taken to the new YouTube Studio dashboard. Next, click “Analytics” in the left sidebar, and you’re in. 

Now, at the top of the YouTube Analytics dashboard, there are four tabs. The first is an overview, and then there are three tabs that contain YouTube analytics metrics relating to what you’d like to achieve:

  1. Overview
  2. Reach
  3. Engagement
  4. Audience

To learn more about each of these YouTube metrics, simply click on one to expand it further.

New YouTube Studio vs. old Creator Studio

Before we dive into the YouTube metrics, you need to know that the platform has recently upgraded its analytics from Creator Studio to the beta version of YouTube Studio, which is far more intuitive and easy to use than the former.

When you log in, you’re automatically taken to the new YouTube Studio dashboard instead of the old Creator Studio dashboard. If you want to access some of the features of the Creator Studio, you can do so in the left-hand column. Options include:

  • Playlists
  • Live events
  • Live stream now
  • Translation and transcription
  • Monetization
  • Status and features
  • Audio library
  • Customize channel
  • VR heatmaps

You can also switch back to Creator Studio Classic near the bottom of the page.

new creator studio youtube

The image below shows the old Creator Studio.

YouTube Analytics Buffer


When using the classic Creator Studio today, you can click the Back to Studio Beta link at the top of the left sidebar menu to return to the most current version of the YouTube analytics app.

10 YouTube analytics to improve your video performance

Now that you know how to navigate YouTube analytics, we’re going to discuss the metrics you should be tracking. Here are 10 of the most crucial YouTube KPIs to measure.

1. Watch time

There’s no denying that video views are a vital metric to track when determining the success of a video. But they’re far from the whole story.

Views alone can’t provide you with the insights you need to make impactful changes to your video strategy.

Instead, it’s best to focus on watch time.

Watch time is the estimated total minutes people spent viewing your content. YouTube uses this metric to measure and predict the performance of a channel or video.

It’s so important, it’s second only to views in the YouTube Analytics Overview tab:

youtube analytics overview tab


Why does YouTube value Watch Time so much? Because it’s the clearest indicator of how engaging and valuable a video is.

When you think about it, it makes perfect sense: does a View really count as a View if the person watching wasn’t interested enough to watch until the end?

This is why watch time is the main driver behind YouTube’s algorithm.

So the aim is to get viewers to spend more time watching your videos. And the best way to do this is simply by creating better videos that people want to watch more of.

2. Audience retention

OK, so you want viewers to spend more time watching your videos, but how can you do that?

Well, you need to start by understanding how well each of your current videos holds people’s attention. That way, you can identify what works and what doesn’t.

Enter audience retention.

This metric allows you to see the quality of your views. With it, you’re able to uncover the point in the video where people stopped watching.

The image below shows an audience retention graph dropping off throughout a video as users leave. As you can see, the video is five minutes and 27 seconds long, but on average, people who watched it dropped off about three minutes and 50 seconds into it. That’s about 70% of the video.

To use this tool, simply play the video, and the red line will move along the graph throughout the video to show you when viewers leave.

Then, you can see where you lost people’s attention, identify what may have caused them to leave, and avoid making the same mistake in future videos.

For example, did you say something offensive or boring that doesn’t align with the tastes of your typical audience? Does the video lose momentum or go off topic at a certain point, causing them to lose interest?

You can also add a call to action (CTA) in the form of a YouTube card before this point to capture more leads before viewers click away.

But that’s not all.

You can also see which parts of videos best hold people’s attention and what happened in the video at that moment. You can then replicate the success in future videos.

Unsurprisingly, YouTube’s algorithm favors channels with high audience retention.

In addition to the standard audience retention, you’re also able to see relative audience retention.

This shows you how well each of your videos retains viewers compared to other YouTube videos of a similar length.

Let’s circle back to the above example. While 70% may not be ideal, we can see that it’s above average, meaning that most five-minute videos don’t hit the 70% mark. Not too shabby. 

3. Real-time report

Real-time report allows you to measure the views of your videos immediately after you release them. You can see views from the past 48 hours and the last 60 minutes, across your entire channel or for specific videos.

youtube analytics real time activity

These YouTube metrics aren’t just exciting to look at, either.

YouTube’s real-time report can help you discover spikes in traffic and relate them to real-time events.

For example, say you post a new video on Facebook, but there’s no spike in views. Then, 20 minutes later, you post your video on Twitter and the views spike dramatically. You now know that your Twitter audience is more receptive to that particular content than your Facebook audience.

If this trend continues, you can assume that your Twitter audience enjoys video content more than your Facebook audience.

With this information, you can work to capitalize on their interest.

What’s more, you may notice a spike in views that you can’t account for. In this case, after a little research, you may discover that your video was shared by an influencer or a popular blog.

You can then engage them and their audience to ride the wave of interest.

4. Audience demographics

Audience research is essential for marketing success.

You need to know who you’re creating products, services, and content for. That way, you can tailor your efforts to the exact needs and desires of those people.

Fortunately, the Demographics page of your YouTube analytics tool contains tons of data on YouTube audiences. You can use these metrics to get a better understanding of the types of people watching your videos.


The YouTube metrics in these simple graphs allow you to identify your audience’s gender, age, device, location, and more. Then you can take this information to create more targeted marketing campaigns.

Plus, location is extremely important for ecommerce businesses.

You may discover an engaged audience in a foreign country you’re currently not serving and decide to expand—which is especially easy to do if you’re dropshipping.

5. Traffic sources

Understanding where most of your traffic comes from is crucial.

Doing so will enable you to avoid wasting resources on low-level traffic sources, and double down on the ones that work well.

YouTube Analytics makes this easy.

Head to the Reach Viewers tab to view your top traffic sources, and click on a graph to see more information.

YouTube traffic sources

The second graph breaks down the external traffic sources further.

Then you can put this information to use.

For example, you may find that you’re pouring time and money into a traffic source that isn’t performing well. This would allow you to cut your losses and redirect those resources to a stronger channel.

Or, you may notice a traffic source growing steadily, and choose to invest more resources into growing it.

On the other hand, you may discover that one of your traffic sources is incredibly strong, even though you don’t focus on it too much. This would present a fantastic opportunity to boost views by allocating more time and resources.

6. Impressions click-through rates

First, let’s understand the variables at play:

  • Impressions: An impression is when one of your video thumbnails shows up on a YouTube user’s screen. Data on impressions can help you understand which videos were distributed most by YouTube and what made them successful. For instance, you may be able to determine if a certain format or format is more successful or that has unusually low or high impressions reach. 
  • Impressions click-through rate (CTR): Impressions click-through rate shows you the percentage of impressions that turned into views. In other words, it shows how many of the people who saw your thumbnail clicked on it.

YouTube Analytics provides a simple graph to show you how many impressions turn into views, and how those views relate to watch time:


The impressions click-through rate measures your video’s ability to entice people to click on your video to watch it.

A high click-through rate means that you have a good title and thumbnail, and the topic resonated with people browsing on YouTube.

Now, let’s look at a common pitfall.

Say you have a high click-through rate leading to plenty of views, but your average view duration is low.

This is bad.

It means that your video caught people’s attention, but couldn’t hold it. You’ll find this often happens with clickbait videos.

If this happens to one of your videos, review your title and thumbnail, as they could be misleading.

The last thing you want to do is mislead viewers.

7. Card click-through rates

Cards are customizable in-video panels that you can use to encourage viewers to take a desired action.

They’re available for videos, playlists, polls, links, and promoting another channel. 

The image below shows an example of YouTube Cards:

youtube cards

YouTube Analytics allows you to view each card’s click-through rate. This can help you identify which CTAs resonate most with your viewers. Consider using more of the better-performing CTAs in future videos.   

8. Likes and dislikes

Likes and dislikes provide a quick and easy way to gauge audience feedback over time.

Obviously, you want to minimize dislikes—but remember that they’re inevitable. So instead of thinking of dislikes as harbingers of doom, it’s important to view them relative to the number of likes your videos receive. This is a much more helpful and practical approach.

If one of your videos receives a lot of dislikes, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do the title and thumbnail accurately represent the video’s content?
  • Is the content relevant to my target audience?
  • Does the video have poor production quality?
  • Are viewers disagreeing with what is being said in the video?

One of the best ways to learn about potential issues is to check your comments. Sometimes, it’s laid out for you in plain sight, instead of you needing to bust out your Sherlock Holmes skills. There’s no better feedback than what comes directly from your audience. 

9. Social Shares

As with YouTube SEO, social sharing can play a huge role in the success of your videos.

With YouTube analytics tools, you can see how your videos are being shared across various social media channels.

YouTube Analytics lets you view the number of shares you’ve received over time for your entire channel or for individual videos.

What’s more, YouTube Analytics will show you where these shares took place:

10. Subscriber rate

The YouTube metrics for subscribers provide a strong indication of your channel’s ability to perform consistently. They’re your regular viewers, after all.

It’s vital to monitor any increases or decreases in your subscriber base.

This simple metric allows you to gauge the overall reach of your channel. Plus, it enables you to understand how each video contributes to gaining or losing Subscribers.

subscriber rate youtube

If you find that a certain video or topic results in gaining subscribers, you can be sure to take advantage of it.

Similarly, if a topic performs badly and you lose subscribers, you can be sure to avoid it in future videos.


YouTube Analytics is a treasure trove of actionable insights that you can use to improve your videos and grow your channel.

It might look intimidating at first, but it just takes a simple overview to help you on your way to mastering YouTube data analysis and taking full advantage of all the amazing features and intel. 

Remember, YouTube’s algorithm heavily rewards high watch time and audience retention. So the best wisdom we can impart is to keep your viewers engaged and coming back for more.

This is a constant process that should never stop—even if you’re smashing your goals left and right. The top-performers on YouTube are always digging into their YouTube Analytics metrics to see what’s working, what’s not, and how to bridge the gaps.

Which metric on this list have you found most useful?

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