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YouTube Metrics: What They Really Mean

Published: April 7, 2015

Author: Ryan Larkin

I’ve written a fair number of blogs regarding YouTube in all its glory since joining 3Q, but I’ve realized these blogs leave something to be desired when it comes to understanding the outcome of all this work that goes into building a well-oiled YouTube account. So, I’ve decided to outline some of the basic and not-so-basic metrics and what they mean to your accounts’ performance.



This metrics seems simple enough – someone watched my video and it got counted as a view, right? Wrong. With in-stream videos, a view is only counted when a user watches at least 30 seconds of a video. Whereas with in-display and in-search, a view is counted when a user clicks on the ad within YouTube. These explanations should provide additional insight on CPVs and view rates among other metrics.

Played-To Percentage

After assessing what a view actually means, we may want to revisit the ‘played to %’ metric. The reason for this is that if your video is 30 seconds long, and you’re only running in-stream campaigns, those played to 50% & 75% numbers are going to seem more appealing because you are basically getting those “views” for free. To give some context, if a user watches 50% of a 30-second video, that user is still being exposed to 15 seconds of that ad; that’s potentially enough to make a low-cost impression on him or her.

View-Through Conversions

VTCs in YouTube take place when a conversion happens when a video is ‘viewed’, but not to the billable point. So in the case of our in-stream example above, a view-through conversion in YouTube happens if: a user watches, but does not complete viewing (aka we’re not charged for), our 30-second video, and then that user completes a desired action. An actual conversion takes place after the video is viewed to a point being billable. Because of this, we’ll typically see more VTCs than actual conversions via YouTube.

Engagement Metrics

Engagement metrics refer to a user liking, commenting on, or sharing your video. You probably already knew this, but it’s important to realize how important these metrics are. For starters, it gives the publisher or advertiser an idea of the quality of the video. The more engagement metrics the video is garnering, chances are you have a fairly compelling piece of content and may want to push volume. These metrics also allow you to see how the video is allowing you to grow your brand and channel via followers.

Earned Actions

Very simply, these are the actions your video garnered via social sharing (Facebook, Twitter, etc.). Obviously these are great because your video is being shared and re-enforce the fact that the content is “cool”. But also, these actions are happening FOR FREE! Earned views, earned subscribers, and earned likes, among other earned metrics, are helping grow your digital presence, fan base, and conversion potential at no cost.  

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