YouTube Analytics: How to Access and Interpret Your Data

YouTube Analytics: How to Access and Interpret Your Data

Precious time and resources go into making world-class content for platforms as competitive as YouTube. By taking regular dives into your YouTube Analytics, you can assess what’s working, what’s falling short, and how to re-strategize.

There are a few different ways to access analytics on YouTube, and different places to look depending on the granularity of data you need. Like any data analysis, what really matters is knowing how to interpret the insights you get and how to turn those insights into action.

At LDS we use YT Analytics on a daily basis, it’s fast, easy to use and fairly comprehensive. We have also built sophisticated tools and products over the top of YT’s data which allow us to focus on certain areas that YTA can’t help with - Reach out to LDS to learn how we use Data to power decision making throughout our channel strategy and content distribution.

Don't forget to check out the YouTube Knowledge Hub for resources and guides on making the most of your YT performance!

woman holding coffee cup smiling at phone

How to Access YouTube Analytics

On Desktop

The desktop version of YouTube Analytics gives the most comprehensive view of your channel’s data. To access it:

  1. Navigate to the YouTube website and click on your profile icon at the top right corner. Select 'YouTube Studio' from the dropdown menu.
  2. On the left side panel, you'll see an 'Analytics' tab. Clicking this will open your channel's analytics dashboard.
  3. Within Analytics, you'll see various tabs such as 'Overview', 'Reach', 'Engagement', 'Audience', and 'Revenue'. Each provides different data points and metrics.
  4. For an in-depth analysis, use the 'Advanced Mode' located at the top right of the Analytics screen. From here, you can customise reports, compare data, and download data sets.

The desktop experience has lots of detail, especially in Advanced Mode. You can view data on your overall channel and individual video performance across a wide range of metrics.

On Mobile

For analytics on-the-go, the YouTube Studio app for mobile devices allows you to access a streamlined version of your analytics.

  1. If you haven’t already, download the YouTube Studio app from the Google Play Store or Apple App Store.
  2. Open the app and sign in using your channel’s account credentials.
  3. Tap on the 'Analytics' tab at the bottom of the screen to view your channel’s performance summary.
  4. The mobile app highlights key metrics such as views, subscribers, watch time, and estimated revenue. You can tap on each metric for more detail.

While the mobile version is convenient and quick, it doesn’t provide the same depth of data as the desktop version. Both platforms provide real-time data, but the way they present it might differ slightly in layout and navigability.

YouTube Shorts Data and Analytics

Your overall channel performance also includes data on your YouTube Shorts. To access YouTube Shorts analytics:

  1. Sign in to your YouTube Studio account.
  2. In the left sidebar, click “Analytics” and select the “Content” tab.
  3. In the top bar, select “Shorts.”

From there, you can take a look at metrics about your Shorts performance, including views, likes, comments, and remixes. You can also see how your Shorts are performing compared to your other content and to the Shorts of other channels.

Other views throughout your YouTube analytics will also typically indicate Shorts as a separate metric.

Get a Full Playbook on Using YouTube
Learn how to optimise your channel performance
and lots more in the YouTube Knowledge Hub!

How to Use YouTube Analytics

Getting familiar with YouTube Analytics helps with content optimization, audience understanding, and strategy development. Here's how to navigate and use the in-depth information you can get from the tool.

Overview Tab

The Overview tab is your dashboard for quick insights at a glance. It shows key performance indicators (KPIs) such as views, watch time, subscriber changes, and estimated revenue over selectable periods.

  • Analyse the Performance Graphs: Review the graphs for spikes or drops, which could indicate content hits or misses.
  • Monitor Recent Video Performance: This section compares the performance of your latest YouTube videos against each other based on the first few hours or days after publication.
  • Check Real-time Activity: Keep an eye on how your content performs in the last 48 hours or 60 minutes for immediate feedback.
youtube logo on phone screen being held at a desk

Reach Tab

Reach is all about understanding how audiences find your videos. It provides metrics on video impressions, click-through rates (CTR), and unique viewers.

  • Impressions and CTR: This tells you how compelling your thumbnails and titles are. Low CTR might indicate a need for more engaging thumbnails or titles.
  • Traffic Source Types: Here you can understand which platforms or searches are driving views to your channel.
  • Unique Viewers: This is a vital metric when it comes to understanding how many different people your channel content is reaching. Having a small but high frequency audience can be effective in some cases, but growing Unique Viewers is usually key to growing a channel overall.


Engagement Tab

This section dives into what content retains viewer interest by detailing watch time and specific video performance.

  • Watch Time Reports: Analyse which videos hold viewers' attention the longest.
  • Top Videos by End Screen: Understand which videos prompt action at the end, giving insight into effective calls-to-action.


Audience Tab

Knowing your viewers is crucial, and the Audience tab helps you learn about your subscribers' demographics, when they're online, and more.

  • Demographics Data: Explore age, gender, and geographic data to tailor your content strategy to your audience.
  • Subscriber Report: See how and when you gain or lose subscribers, which can inform how you adjust your content.


Revenue Tab

For monetised channels, the Revenue tab shows you how your content is translating into earnings.

  • Monthly Estimated Revenue: Track how much money your channel is making over time.
  • Revenue Sources: Break down your earnings by ad types, channel memberships, Super Chat, etc.


Advanced Mode

For deeper analysis, the 'Advanced Mode' in YouTube Analytics is invaluable.

  • Custom Reports: Create reports that focus on the metrics you care about most.
  • Comparative Analysis: Compare performance over different periods or between different videos.
  • Video Drilldown: Get detailed analytics for a specific video, including audience retention and engagement metrics.
man wearing headphones sitting on grey couch holding phone and smiling

16 YouTube Metrics That Matter

Focusing on the right metrics can make a difference in your channel's growth and engagement levels.


When it comes to understanding the impact of your YouTube content, the "View" metric stands as a fundamental indicator of your video's reach and popularity. Each view represents a moment someone chose to engage with your content, offering a clear, quantifiable measure of its initial appeal. Analysing views in conjunction with these additional metrics can reveal what resonates with your audience, guiding your content strategy and helping you to craft videos that not only attract but also retain viewer interest and drive subsequent engagement.

2. Watch Time

This metric indicates the total amount of time that viewers have spent watching your videos. High watch time can lead to better visibility on the platform as it signals to YouTube that viewers find your content valuable, so your videos are more likely to get recommended and appear in search results. YouTube have this as their own internal KPI.

3. Average View Duration

Average duration is the average length of time viewers watch an individual video. This metric helps you understand if your content maintains viewers' interest and enables you to take a look at your content on a more granular level, from video to video.

4. Impressions and Click-Through Rate (CTR)

Impressions count the number of times your video thumbnails are shown to viewers, while click-through rate measures the percentage of impressions that turned into views. These metrics gauge the initial appeal of your videos and can help inform elements like your thumbnail design and video title.

5. Subscriber Growth

This fairly self-explanatory metrics lets you track net subscriber changes within a given time period. This metric is a key indicator of your channel’s overall appeal and growth on the YouTube platform.

video being played on phone being held in hands

6. Top Videos by Watch Time

By using the Top Videos by Watch Time metric, you can see which videos keep viewers engaged the longest. This metric is critical for analysing the performance of your existing content, and how you can optimise future productions.

7. Traffic Source Types

Traffic Source Types shows you where viewers are finding your videos. For example, your videos might be getting found through YouTube search, suggested videos, or external websites. Knowing where viewers come from can help you strategize on which distribution channels are doing well, and which you need to work on to increase viewership and engagement.

8. Audience Demographics

The Audience tab in your YouTube Analytics provides information on the age, gender, and location of your audience. These metrics can help you tailor content better and understand if you’re reaching your target audience.

9. Device Type

Device Type tells you whether viewers are watching on desktop, mobile, tablets, or TVs. This is important to know as it can influence the video formatting and production decisions you take moving forward, such as focusing more on vertical video for Shorts if more people are viewing on mobile.

10. Likes and Dislikes (Engagement)

Likes and dislikes on a video provide immediate feedback, showing content creators whether viewers enjoyed their video. This straightforward response helps gauge audience preference, guiding brands on what content resonates well.


The number of comments on a video can be a direct measure of viewer engagement and can offer qualitative insights into how your content is received. Further qualitative research in your comments is also essential—it’s where you’ll get a sense of what your audience likes (or doesn’t like) about your content.

black microphone and headphones sitting on desk


Shares measures the number of times your videos have been shared on social media platforms or via direct links. Shares can amplify reach organically and signal that your content resonates enough for viewers to prompt others in their network to check out your videos.

13. Card Click-Through Rate

YouTube cards are interactive elements, typically promoting further videos or content for users to visit. Card CTR measures how effectively these cards convert viewers into taking actions, whether it’s visiting a website or watching another video.

14. End Screen Click-Through Rate

Similar to cards, end screens provide calls to action at the end of a video. Again, creators typically use these cards to direct their audience to other videos. This rate measures how compelling your end screen elements are.

15. Unique Viewers

Separate to overall views, this metric tells you how many individual viewers are watching your content, which is critical for understanding the actual size of your active audience.

16. Playback-based CPM (Cost Per Mille)

Playback-based CPM (Cost Per Mille) is a vital metric for monetised YouTube channels, representing the average earnings for every thousand video playbacks where at least one ad was displayed. This figure helps creators understand the revenue potential of their content, factoring in not just the number of views but the frequency and types of ads viewers see.

How to Improve Your YouTube Channel and Video Metrics

Fine-Tune Your Content Strategy

Analyse Content Performance: Use YouTube Analytics to identify which types of videos garner the most watch time and engagement. Replicate successful elements in future content.

Optimise Video Titles and Descriptions: Incorporate keywords that are trending within your niche and are frequently searched for by your target audience.

Create High-Quality Thumbnails: Thumbnails that stand out can increase your CTR. Test different designs and use high-contrast colours and readable text.

Consistency is Key: Maintain a regular posting schedule. Consistency helps in keeping your audience engaged and can boost your videos in YouTube’s recommendation algorithm.

Promote Your Videos: Don’t rely solely on organic reach. Use social media, email newsletters, and other marketing channels to promote your videos.

Diversify Your Content: Experiment with multiple video formats, such as vertical video for Shorts or, for longer form videos, experiment with length and content.

Engage with Your Audience

Encourage Viewer Interaction: Ask viewers to like, comment, and share.

Engagement can signal to YouTube that your content is valuable, potentially increasing your reach in organic YouTube search and recommendations.

Respond to Comments: Show that you value your audience by interacting with them in the comments section.

This builds community and can increase repeat viewership, as well as directing subscribers/viewers to other important channels.

Host Live Sessions: Live streams can significantly boost watch time and create real-time engagement with your audience.

YouTube content strategies are changing, because YT itself is changing. Learn how to respond effectively and capitalise on these changes with the YouTube is Changing whitepaper.

video editing software on laptop

Leverage Analytics for Improvement

Deep Dive into Audience Retention: Look at the retention curves for your videos. Identify drop-off points and determine what can be improved to keep viewers watching longer.

Understand Your Traffic Sources: Focus on traffic sources that bring the most viewers. Strengthen your presence on those platforms or within those search terms.

Track Your Progress: Set measurable goals for key metrics. Use analytics to track your progress and adjust your strategy as needed.

Optimise for Multiple Devices and Formats

Create Mobile-Friendly Content: With many users watching on mobile, ensure your videos are engaging on smaller screens. Use clear visuals and larger text.

Consider Multi-Platform Consumption: Create content that can be easily repurposed for other platforms to maximise your reach and cross-platform engagement.

Technical Enhancements

Improve Video Quality: Invest in better production quality. High-definition videos with clear audio can lead to longer watch times and better viewer experiences. Outsourcing production to a team who has the tools and know-how (for example, at Little Dot Studios we have our own in-house production teams and studio), keeps quality high and viewers engaged.

Use End Screens and Cards Effectively: Direct viewers to other videos, playlists, or external links at the end of your videos to increase engagement and keep viewers on your channel.

Stay Informed on Platform Changes: YouTube frequently updates its platform and algorithms. Stay current on these changes and adapt your strategy accordingly.

Work With Official YouTube Partners to Analyse and Improve Your Video & Content Performance

Here at Little Dot Studios, we’ve worked directly with YouTube on initiatives like the YouTube Health Accelerator—and we’ve worked with brands, broadcasters, and rights holders to generate millions of views, growing highly engaged audiences along the way.

Reach out to the Little Dot team today to work with content superfans who live in YouTube metrics all day, every day. From content production to channel-specific strategies and measurement, stand out from the crowd and start your story today with Little Dot Studios.

Want more YT? Check out the YouTube Resource Hub before you go!