by Eleana Overett, Founder

How often do you check your analytics? Some users check prolifically every day, while others maybe remember once a year. YouTube suggest having a look once a week to really get a sense of what’s going on. At the very least, it’s good to set aside some time to work out which functions in the Analytics give you the most useful information so you can check those on a regular basis, and then use that time to also work out how to read that data.

100% retention rate (all viewers staying on all your videos from beginning to end) is pretty much impossible. However looking at your retention rate can give you great tips on how to improve your videos to keep viewers watching longer, earn more Adsense, and nab those pesky new subscribers.


Figures from 2015

Overall Audience Retention isn’t going to tell you a whole heck of a lot (ignore the sudden dive in my minutes watched at the end, that day’s data was delayed so it isn’t displayed properly).

You can get a general feeling for how much of your videos on average people are watching by looking at the graph of Average View Duration.

According to this graph, after 2 minutes people used to stop watching my videos in 2015. I had to find a way to keep them watching longer!

At this point you can get a general idea about how you’re doing, but you can’t make any firm decisions about the data or actions you can take to improve. To do that, you need to get down to the video level.

Apologies for the terrible picture quality, this is a photo of a projector screen. But it’s also an excellent example of how to read data at the video level and apply it to how you film your videos.

To see this page on your account, click on Audience Retention then a video of your choice.

This video is by Indy Mogul and you can check out the video here. It is a DIY (important to note!) and had 380,000 views at time of taking the data. You can see that on average people are watching 4 minutes 20 seconds of the video.

See the red line? It comes right at the beginning where there is an immediate drop off in views. Pretty much all videos have this. The reason is because people click videos by accident, or they very quickly realise that it isn’t the video they are looking for and they click away. This is normal. No need to cry over it unless less than 50% of viewers remain – then you might want to have a think about why 50% of the people who click on your video aren’t finding what they’re looking for.

What’s interesting in this particular case, is that people weren’t watching the first 4:20 of the video. As you can see, most people are watching the middle of the video as there is a dip in views and then suddenly a peak again with basically steady views that follow. Weird right? Why is that?

To work this out, watch the video. You will quickly see that the rise in views happens as soon as the DIY begins. From this you can infer the people are skipping the intro and heading straight for what they came for – the how-to instructions.

Then all of a sudden around the 7 minute mark, Indy Mogul loses a lot of views. And yet there are several minutes left of the video. Again, why is that?

Watch the video and you will see the drop off happens as soon as the DIY finishes. The viewers have got what they came for. The rest of the video is chatty, other stuff happens, and by the time the end screen appears pretty much everyone has gone.



The main 3 things are:

  1. We know which bits of the video people are interested in watching by the view peaks.
  2. If less than 50% remain on your video, something is wrong with your first 30 seconds – maybe your title/thumbnail are misleading or you take too long to get the subject matter.
  3. If the views drop off dramatically at the end, it means hardly anyone is left watching when the you ask them to subscribe/like/look at other videos.



  1. Look at several videos in your Audience Retention tab. You won’t be able to make a decision based on just one. Look for patterns.
  2. Note where people drop off and where you start to see constancy
    1. Ignore the initial drop off, but if pretty much everyone leaves at the beginning you’re doing something very wrong.
  3. Note where people tend to close your video. What do they miss? What happened there to make them click away?
  4. Re-consider your introduction. Make a few videos without any preamble and just launch into the content. Do you see different results?
  5. Consider the overall length of your video – is it too long? Can you be more concise? YouTube likes videos that are at least 10 minutes long these days because then they can put multiple ads in and make more money. The longer you can keep people watching, the better for them. But still, take time to consider whether this right for your content.


What are you favourite Analytics functions to check? Do you have any tips for keeping viewers watching your videos longer? Let us know in the comments or tweet us @LondonSmallYT.

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