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Do you want to be able to make sense of video analytics? Would you like to be able to tell the difference between a popular video and an effective one?

Why do analytics matter?

Almost every platform online for hosting video allows you to see analytics to determine how well a video has performed.

Understanding these and knowing how to interpret them can give you a huge advantage when it comes to marketing your content and producing future videos.

If you know what type of videos get watched you can produce more of these. If you know which parts of a video get the most interest you can extend or elaborate on these sections. If you know more about your audience you can create content to better suit them.

Every platform captures its data and presents its findings differently to any other provider. There are, however, certain basic analytics that are consistent across most platforms.

There will be future posts that go in to more detail on the analytics available for various channels e.g. YouTube, Facebook, Twitter etc. but for now let’s explore the basics…

Analytics Basics

Most decent video platforms provide certain key areas/categories that analytics are sorted into…


This category of analytics focusses on the ‘what’ people have watched. These can be a really good guide to the popularity of a video.

YouTube Analytics Dashboard - views

This image from the fantastic blog on optimising YouTube Analytics by Adam Linkenauger

Views –

The number of people that have actually watched your video. This is usually based on the viewer needing to watch a certain proportion of the content.

Unique views –

One person can watch the same video over and over again. Unique views lets you see a count where each viewer, no matter how often they watch a video, only counts as one.

Vidyard's Engagement Analytics

Vidyard offer a clear and easy to read engagement heat-map.

Engagement –

Engagement graphs or heat-maps show you how often specific parts of a video have been watched. Did people watch the first 20 seconds or skip to a particular section? Were viewers rewinding and watching bits over and over? 

Minutes watched –

This measure adds the total minutes the video has been watched together. For example if a video is 2 minutes long and has 5 views you would expect this to show 10 minutes. Not everyone watches a video all the way through though. So often this figure can vary.

Average view duration –

This shows an average of minutes per view. It can be particularly useful to see that, on average, viewers are watching 1min 30 seconds of a 2 minute video as it shows they are engaged. If the average view duration on a 2 minute video is only 20 seconds there is clearly a problem.

YouTube Demographics

Image taken from the fascinating blog on video analytics by Emily E. Steck


This provides insight into who your audience are. This allows you to identify whether you videos are being watched by the right people.

Age –

What age range are your viewers in?

Gender –

What gender are your viewers?

Location –

Where are your audience based? What country or city?

Interests –

What are the interests that your audience have besides watching your incredible videos?

Traffic Sources

Google Analytics Acquisition

Screengrab originally used by James Thomas on his article on the importance of traffic

Where are your audience coming from? Have they found your video through a link you’ve sent them, were they on social media and sent it by a friend or were they searching for relevant content online?

This is so important to measure as knowing where your traffic comes from gives you more insight in to your audience, what their interests are, where they are. If you aren’t getting traffic from one source you can put more resources in to it. Alternatively if you aren’t getting traffic from one particular social channel then maybe you should ditch it altogether and use your time and budget elsewhere.

Direct traffic –

Has traffic come from people typing the specific web address (URL) into their browser? Often if traffic cannot be tracked to any other form it is called ‘Direct’.

Organic traffic –

Traffic that has arisen by searches either within the platform or Google e.g. if you create video about a hair dryer and people searching for ‘hair dryers’ find your video this is the count that identifies them.

Social traffic –

Traffic that has come from links on social media. If you post about a video on Facebook and someone clicks on the link – that will count towards this statistic.

Keywords –

What are that people have searched for in order to find your video. Were they looking for “exciting products” or ‘hair dryers’ or ‘how to speed up my website’?


One way to determine a piece of content’s success is by the way in which people interact with it. Do they just watch it or do they click on provided links or like it, subscribe to your channel, share it with people, write comments etc.

These will vary from platform to platform based on the methods of interaction that channel provides. What is consistent is the more people that interact the better.

“People influence people. Nothing influences people more than a recommendation from a trusted friend. A trusted referral influences people more than the best broadcast message. A trusted referral is the Holy Grail of advertising.” – Mark Zuckerberg

The reason this the case is that most online channels use exciting and complicated algorithms to work out what people want to watch. When people interact with content they are clearly stating their interest. This makes interaction the most important yard stick to measure success outside of context.

Analytics in context

Analytics, especially for video, should never be viewed without an appreciation for context and purpose. What are good analytics for one video might indicate the failure of another.

For example:

A company puts out a video to promote its brand. It is new to the market and wants to increase its brand recognition. If this video gets 1000s of views it has done its job perfectly.


If the same company puts out a piece of video promoting a newly designed product, which also gets 1000s of views it may not be a successful piece of content. More important than the views in this instance is how many people have interacted with the content – specifically clicking through to a purchase page for the product.

In the example above the second video is only successful if it results in increased sales. If it only had 10 views and 5 had gone on to spend £1500 with the company then that video would have made £7500 in revenue. Whether this is successful entirely depends on the cost of making and marketing that content.

This is why, as part of the planning process, it so important to ask yourself ‘The 5 Magic Questions’. The 5th question focusses you on how you are going to judge the effectiveness of your content. Answering this question gives you a lens through which you can interpret your analytics.

Making video with a plan is like finding money in the streetMaking sense of video analytics – what you should remember

  • Video Analytics are essential to being successful with your content
  • Making a video and putting it online without a clear idea of who the audience should be and how you are judging success is the same as throwing away money. You might get lucky but it is the same as hoping you will find money in the street.
  • Analytics should never be judged without context.


For more information about Smarter Video take a look here.

Please get in touch and let me know what you would like to learn or read about.

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