The Vital Metrics You Have to Track for Measuring Your Success on YouTube

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Every YouTuber harbors dreams of hitting the one-million-subscribers mark, and while some manage to fulfill theirs, most fail. You wouldn’t be entirely wrong to think that the failures are down to content creators just not putting enough effort into their YouTube endeavors, but you wouldn’t be completely right either.

Numerous talented YouTubers put their hearts and souls into their respective channels. Still, they never get the kind of recognition that they deserve simply because they’re not tracking the right metrics. YouTube Analytics is the platform’s built-in tool that is meant to help content creators understand the numbers that dictate the rise or fall of their channels, and if you’re a YouTuber who wants to go the distance, it’s about time you familiarized yourself with the metrics that matter.

1. Demographics

Let’s say you get to a few thousand YouTube subscribers after you’ve successfully managed to stick to a content posting schedule, and you want to know more about the people who’re following you. The YouTube Analytics tool has a Demographics page that will allow you to gain greater insight into your audience by classifying them using the following criteria:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Geographical location
  • The device used to view your content

Each criterion will give you statistics that you can use to create more diverse content for specific audience groups. For example, if you are a YouTuber based in the USA and your content has really caught on with people living in India, you can take advantage of your rising popularity in the world’s second-most populated nation by making videos on subjects that have relevance for Indian audiences. In the process, you can expect to earn more likes, shares, and, most importantly, subscribers.

The Demographics page also allows you to go into the details of the people who view your content from each country. Simply select a country to open up more details such as gender and age graphs particular to that country.

2. Traffic sources

Not everyone who views your content finds it in the same way. While some may find out about you and your YouTube channel through ads, others may find it on a list of suggested videos or through a YouTube search. You must understand how your audience is making its way to your videos and the ‘Traffic Sources’ metric allows you to do just that.

Simply open the Traffic Sources pages on the YouTube Analytics tool and you’ll be able to see multiple sources of traffic that have led people to your channel. Along with traffic sources, you’ll also be able to view statistics such as Watch Time, Views, and Average View Duration.

The most telling statistic among the ones you’ll find in the Traffic Sources page is the average view duration, which will tell you what kind of time viewers from a specific traffic source are spending on your videos. The traffic source with the highest average view duration is your strongest source of ‘quality views,’ and you should prioritize it over all other sources.

For example, suppose the average view duration is highest among viewers who find your videos through YouTube search. In that case, you can take several steps to optimize your videos to become more prominent across YouTube search results pages. Creating eye-catching thumbnails and optimizing keywords are some of the ways to ensure that your videos are more likely to be discovered by users who use YouTube search more than any other feature on the platform to find new content.

3. Real-Time report

The Real-Time report allows you to measure the views being generated by your videos as they are being generated. Unlike YouTube’s verified view count that appears on your dashboard (generally after a two-day lag), the Real-Time report gives you statistics based on how viewers across YouTube have engaged with your videos over the last two days and also the last hour.

To make the most of your Real-Time report, you have to know a simple trick to find out on which platforms your video has been shared apart from YouTube. For this trick, you need your YouTube video ID, which is an alpha-numeric code assigned to each video. To find the YouTube ID of any of your videos, simply open up the video and click the ‘Share’ button. A section underneath the ‘Share’ button will pop up showing a URL, and the alpha-numeric code that you’ll see after the last slash in the URL is your video ID.

Now that you know your video ID, do a simple Google search using the following search query:

Youtube Video ID

If your video ID is Ilsmj420, then your search query will look like:


When your Real-Time report displays a sudden spike for a particular video, it’s time to conduct a Google search using this type of search query. In the results, you’ll be able to zero in on all the places that your video has been shared, allowing you to visit those places and engage with new people (potential YouTube subscribers). Use this technique to find more takers for your videos and also enhance your image and reputation within different social media circles.

4. Audience Retention

Let’s talk about two different views on a particular YouTube video that you uploaded; the first one lasted from the first second of your video to the last, but the second one lasted only till the two-minute mark. Now, what if most of your views for that particular video are of the latter sort? It won’t make for good news, particularly if it’s a ten-minute video, right? But at the same time, it’s the sort of information that can help you finetune your future videos.

The way that you can get this information is through the ‘Audience Retention’ page on the YouTube Analytics dashboard. Through graphs, this page gives you vital information regarding the moments during which your videos that manage to retain maximum viewers and also the moments where your viewers move on to some other video. Use the tabs ‘Absolute audience retention’ and ‘Relative audience retention’ to get more in-depth information.

Once you extract the valuable information that the Audience Retention page has to give you for a particular video, you can pinpoint the things you got right and more importantly, the things you got wrong. While undoing the wrong things is not very feasible for a video you’ve already published, you can certainly not make similar mistakes in the videos you’ll make in the future.

For example, incorporating calls-to-action (CTAs) sparingly throughout a video can help in retaining audiences. Properly placed CTAs can also give you more YouTube likes and subscriptions.

5. Playback Locations

Just because you published a video on your YouTube channel from your desktop doesn’t mean that all your viewers have to view the video on YouTube itself from a desktop. The ‘Playback Locations’ page classifies locations into three categories; YouTube watch page, YouTube channel page, and Embedded in external websites and apps. You’ll also see watch time, views, and average view duration along with the three categories.

Suppose a particular video generates maximum views and average view duration through your YouTube channel page. In that case, it means that the majority of your real YouTube subscribers are making their way to your channel and then viewing your content. In such a situation, you need to put as much effort as you can towards your YouTube channel to make it an immersive place for viewers.

However, suppose you see that most of the views for a specific video are being generated on embedded links across external apps and websites. In that case, you have to find a way of reaching out to the viewers on those platforms and encourage them to visit your YouTube channel. Success across external websites and apps also means that there is potential for you to hook up with different websites in the future to promote each other’s content/products/services.

How to access YouTube Analytics

If you don’t know how to access YouTube Analytics, read the following steps:

  • Use your YouTube credentials to log in to your account
  • Go to the ‘Creator Studio’, which you’ll see after you click on your profile icon (top right corner of your YouTube page)
  • In the Creator Studio dashboard, you should see a menu on the left-hand side with the ‘Analytics’ option
  • Click on the ‘Analytics’ option to arrive at the YouTube Analytics dashboard

YouTube Analytics gives users the option of exporting datasets as CSV text files or Excel spreadsheets, which is ideal if you want to gain more insight into the workings of your YouTube channel by yourself.


While there are several other metrics that you’ll find in your YouTube Analytics dashboard, the five that we’ve listed on this post are undoubtedly the most important for sustained growth on the world’s largest video-centric social media platform. To ensure that you survive and thrive on YouTube for a long time to come, you have to assess your videos using YouTube Analytics periodically. Most YouTubers who have made it big now have their very own analytics teams, but if you’re just starting, YouTube Analytics is more than enough for you to make sense of your numbers.

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