After last month’s Creator Studio update gave (some) YouTubers access to more video performance metrics, the platform is considering developing a tool that would let them compare their stats against those of other, similar creators.
In YouTube’s latest Creator Insider video, developers Patricia (a product manager working in analytics) and Rachel (analytics and content surfacing) break down two key metrics: click-through rate, or CTR, and average view duration, AVD.
These metrics were added in last month’s update, and would be key parts of the potential future comparison tool. In general, they are both “super important signals to understand your audience interest in your topic, in your title and thumbnail, as well as your content once they start watching,” Patricia explains.
For those not familiar, click-through rate refers to the amount of times people see a video–and, crucially, its title/thumbnail–versus the amount of times people actually click to watch the video. AVD refers to the average amount of time people spend watching a video. When examined together, CTR and AVD can help creators determine if something is “off” about a particular upload. For example, if a seven-minute video has a sky-high 50% CTR, but its AVD is only ten seconds, that could mean its thumbnail and title are eye-catching, but its content isn’t holding up. If that same video has a CTR of 0.001% but an AVD of six minutes and 30 seconds, maybe the title/thumb is lackluster but the content is gold.
But not all cases are so clear-cut. Patricia and Rachel said creators have approached the YouTube team with concerns about seemingly unbalanced stats and how the performance of their videos affects their likelihood of being recommended on YouTube’s Home page and in Up Next panels.
Hands-down the most frequent scenario is creators investigating stats for videos that appear to be underperforming in terms of frontend metrics like views, only for YouTube’s backend metrics to indicate the video has a good–or even above average–CTR and AVD.
“This is the most common question I receive from creators,” Rachel says. “Click-through rate and average view duration are one of dozens of signals that we will use for search and discovery, but there are also a lot of other factors that are gonna influence how many impressions your videos get and how many people watch them.”
YouTubers who see this scenario should pay attention to three other factors, she says. First, competition: Are their videos getting fewer impressions simply because their viewers are watching other creators? Second, topic: “Some people on YouTube will watch videos about a really niche topic, and some topics have bigger audience sizes than others,” she says. A video about a broader-appeal topic could naturally garner more viewers than a video about a niche interest.
And third, seasonality: YouTube naturally goes through dips and rises in viewership that affect many creators. One particularly noticeable user habit change is in September, “when people are starting to go back to school and you see more viewership go toward weekends,” Rachel explains.
Creators are also concerned that getting external traffic hurts their chances of being recommended
The duo also addressed creators’ concerns that videos getting a lot of outside traffic (from things like search engines, or being linked on another social platform) can hurt their metrics and thus their chances of being recommended.
“In discovery, we actually look at how a video performs in the context it’s shown,” Rachel says. “So when a video is shown on Home, how does it perform there? Overall,” she adds, “CTR and AVD is a pretty good indicator about how your video’s doing in general, but it definitely doesn’t cover all cases, and each surface actually has their own ranking model. So having more traffic from external is not going to hurt your discovery rate or how your video is being recommended in Home or Watch Next.”
With all this in mind, Patricia notes that creators want to get a clearer picture of their videos’ performance by stacking themselves up against the competition. The analytics team has seen interest “around wanting to compare click-through rates and average video duration not with yourself and your past videos, but with other channels similar to yours,” she says. “This is actually something that we’re looking into and hopefully will have more to share in another sneak peek coming soon.”
For now, YouTube asks that creators who can see their CTR and AVD in Creator Studio submit feedback about them. It’s not clear when those metrics and other tools will roll out to the full creator base.