Viewing YouTube in the Referrals Report
As we review how to analyze YouTube traffic in Google Analytics, we’ll use a brand dedicated to promoting healthy living and eating as our example site. The brand often uses videos to demonstrate recipe preparation, to review organic products, and to showcase promotional appearances by the site owner.
Site visitors from YouTube are captured like any other referral and can be viewed in the same manner. The Referrals report in GA allows you to see traffic volume, engagement stats and conversions from YouTube all in one place. To access this report, go to Acquisition > All Traffic > Referrals. Then, type “youtube.com” into the search bar below the graph to filter sessions.
In this report, we see that YouTube drove 1,844 sessions and 797 new users. The engagement metrics (Bounce Rate, Pages/Sessions and Avg. Session Duration) for this subset also show that the quality of YouTube traffic is significantly better than site traffic as a whole. Bounce Rate is much lower than the site average while Pages/Session and Avg. Session Duration are much higher. This tells us that users from YouTube are more likely to look at multiple pages and spend more time on the site than the average users.
The % New Sessions column shows us that less than half of the sessions are from first-time visits to the site. This suggests that a lot of people coming from YouTube are already familiar with the brand and may regularly engage with the content.
We can also look at the Conversions columns to determine how well YouTube contributes to the Goal of newsletter signups. Conversion Rate is slightly more than double the site as a whole, confirming the quality of traffic seen through engagement. These users are much more likely to sign up for the newsletter than the average user.
The Source column shows multiple URLs, breaking down visitors from the main youtube.com (desktop site), m.youtube.com (mobile site), and five sessions from accounts.youtube.com (extraneous traffic we can ignore). By looking at these specific URLs, you can compare the performance of the desktop site vs. the mobile site in driving engagement and conversions.
Overall, desktop visitors show better engagement, as well as a higher conversion rate. While shorter time on site tends to be common with mobile usage, the low conversion rate is a red flag. The site owner should look at how the newsletter’s call to action to sign up is presented to mobile visitors and should consider perhaps making it more visible or testing the signup form on a phone for usability issues.
Viewing YouTube Referrals in Social Reports
Unlike many other referral sources, you can also view YouTube data in the Social section of Google Analytics. This method allows you to easily view all YouTube traffic together without showing separate mobile and desktop URLs or having to use the search bar to filter.
To access this information, navigate to Acquisition > Social > Network Referrals. As long as you’re receiving referrals from YouTube, you will see it in the list of social networks. This will help you see how YouTube measures up against other networks.
In this example, we see that while YouTube drives a fraction of the sessions coming from Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter, that sessions from YouTube show a much higher Avg. Session Duration and Pages/Session than any other channel. This data confirms that the traffic from YouTube is of very high quality.
To view the specific pages people landed on during these sessions, click “YouTube” from this list. You’ll then see a list of URLs visited from YouTube.
[Screenshot: Google Analytics URLs Visited from YouTube]
In this list, we can see the homepage at the top, a normal occurrence as your homepage will be most frequently linked to from social profiles. Next in popularity is a recipe page for green juice that includes an infographic and video. This page also shows relatively high engagement, with Avg. Session Duration of over three minutes. Also on our list is another video about making a green smoothie, helping us to determine that instructions for making “green drinks” are of high interest to this site’s audience and instructional content should continue to be part of future videos and articles.
Viewing YouTube Conversions in Social Reports
You can also view conversions within the Social section by going to Social > Conversions. While viewing conversions in this report does let you easily see YouTube conversion totals and value, you can’t see conversion rate as you could in the Referrals report previously referenced.
On this report, start by selecting a specific goal from the Conversion Type drop-down at the top. We’ve already determined YouTube’s effectiveness in driving newsletter signups, so this time we’ll choose a Goal directly connected to revenue, downloading an e-guide that sells for $20.
After selecting the Goal, you will see a list of social networks, with total conversions (e-guide purchases) and revenue for each. Facebook continues to rank on top as the highest contributor to conversions and revenue, partly because of sheer volume of traffic. For this conversion, YouTube only contributed directly to three e-guide purchases worth $60.
However, we did note previously that YouTube contributes to a high conversion rate for newsletter signups. Comparing the data for these two conversions, we can determine that YouTube is not well suited for driving direct sales but performs well with higher funnel conversions. Once on the newsletter list, they may then later choose to buy as they begin to further identify with the brand.
Evaluating Your Viewers in YouTube analytics
Google Analytics provides metrics on the traffic that clicked through to your website from YouTube, but what else can you learn about those other users? What about people who may have engaged with your content on YouTube, but didn’t visit your site?
YouTube Analytics can provide data on those people, helping you see beyond the information you get in Google Analytics. Even if you’re not seeing many people coming from YouTube directly to your website, they still may be engaging with content on your YouTube channel or watching embedded videos on your site.
Accessing YouTube Analytics
To view your data, you must first log into your company’s YouTube account. Open Creator Studio, and select Analytics from the left-side menu.
YouTube Viewer Demographics
YouTube’s demographic data can help you learn about the audience you’re reaching via the video social network. Available information in the Demographics report includes age and gender breakdowns, as well as top locations. If you’re familiar with the demographic reports in Google Analytics, you’ll find the data available similar.
The above chart shows the demographics breakdown for an entire YouTube channel. But, you can also look at demographics for individual videos.
The graph above shows demographic data for a video that was part of a larger marketing campaign. Here, a pharmaceutical interest group looking to spread awareness for proper medicine disposal created this video to reach women in a specific age range that are likely to have young kids at home and potentially taking responsibility for the care of older parents. This video was promoted using AdWords for video (which allows you to promote YouTube videos via specific targeting) as well as social media. As you can see, females aged 35-44 make up the largest category of viewers, falling in line with the desired target of this campaign.
YouTube’s data can be helpful to share with a client when a specific target demographic has been defined to show that you understand their target audience, and have been successful at reaching it.
Geographic data comprises another important part of demographic information. We can view a geography breakdown in the Views report, which shows the majority of views coming from New York, again reflecting the desired target audience’s location.
When we compare this data to the equivalent geography report in Google Analytics (Audience > Geo > Location), we can see how YouTube viewers compare to users visiting the website. This information shows how effectively we are reaching target geographies, and how much the website users’ locations overlap with YouTube.
In the YouTube Analytics report, about 93% of views came from New York, while Google Analytics shows that 84% of website users came from New York. Considering that video views came from a highly targeted promotion, using AdWords for video, Facebook Advertising, and Twitter Ads to push the video to the brand’s desired demographic, and website traffic came from a wider range of sources, the geographical targeting data on YouTube is more precise than on the website.
YouTube’s Traffic Sources report breaks down how people found a video, whether through search, social media or a link from another website. In the report below, we see the majority of views came from advertising. When reporting to the client, this knowledge, combined with the demographic reports showing success in reaching the desired age, gender and geographic targets, helps to demonstrate the value of advertising.
Most brands don’t just have a YouTube channel; they work hard to drive traffic to it. That means linking to your channel and individual videos from your website, social media, in email marketing campaigns, etc. The External Websites category (fourth down on our list) in this report will show you how many people clicked from an external source (like your website or your Facebook page) to go to YouTube and then watched a video. In addition, the report provides insight on other social media channels’ value in driving users to YouTube. Click the category to see a list of specific sites.
In the above report, you can see that Facebook has contributed the most views, with the longest average view duration. Twitter is second, but with a significantly shorter view duration. Next, the advertiser’s website is listed, showing 33 people went from the website to YouTube and proceeded to watch this brand’s video.
However, 33 is a small fraction of the more than 45,000 people who visited the website in the same timeframe. But this is where the combination of YouTube Analytics and Google Analytics becomes truly powerful. We can use the Google Analytics Channels report (Acquisition > All Traffic > Channels) to see how top traffic sources compare on YouTube to Google.
Here, we see advertising once again contributing to the heaviest portion of traffic, including Display and Paid Search. We do see Social as the next category after Direct and Other, showing that Facebook and Twitter do contribute to website traffic as they do for YouTube.
If this advertiser desires to see more traffic to YouTube from the website, they should integrate better promotion of its YouTube channel into content on the site, such as linking to YouTube videos from blog posts.
Of course, embedding videos within the site also encourages people to watch right away. In this site’s case, a lot more people are watching the video within the site than clicking off to the channel from the site.
Although Google Analytics does not track embedded video views by default, you can set up tracking for YouTube video data in Google Analytics . However, without any extra setup necessary, YouTube provides reports on views that occurred while embedded, down to information for individual sites.
To see these views, go to the Playback Locations report and select “Embedded Player on Other Websites” from the list of locations. This report will break down sites other than youtube.com where the video was viewed.
In this example, we see the advertiser’s website was the top location for the video to be viewed while embedded. Facebook ranks second, but with a significantly lower average view duration in this case.
Comparing this report to the previous report also shows that people were more likely to watch further into the video when actually clicking over to YouTube from Facebook as opposed to viewing directly within Facebook.
We can also analyze how long people on average are watching a video when it’s embedded. From this data, we can see people are only watching an average of 1:29 for a video close to three minutes long. We then may recommend testing a shorter version of the video on the website to see if people are more likely to watch it through the end. Video length and quality can also impact overall website engagement.
The Devices report in YouTube will show you whether users watched your video on a mobile phone, tablet or desktop. This data helps to identify how your potential audience chooses to browse the web.
In this report, we see a fairly even split among mobile phone, tablet and desktop, with phones making up the largest category. Interestingly, phone and desktop users view for about the same length of time, while tablet users view for a slightly lower average duration.
From this data, we can determine that phone and desktop users are equally likely to be engaged with video content. In addition, we see the need to make sure the website experience matches up with the high volume of phone and tablet usage, so those who go to the site after watching the video find it a positive experience whatever device they use.
Going to Google Analytics, we can compare the devices being used to access the website with those being used to view videos on YouTube. Look at the Audience > Mobile > Overview report to see a similar breakdown as was available in YouTube Analytics.
In this example, we see more desktop devices being used to access the website but still note that about a third of users are on mobile devices, while tablet users make up the smallest category. This data shows us that users engaging with media such as video on YouTube are slightly less likely to be browsing from desktop devices than those seeking general website information, but mobile and tablet are still significant enough to be taken seriously in website design and development.
When YouTube videos are a part of a digital marketing strategy, YouTube’s analytics and Google Analytics can provide valuable insights on who is viewing your videos and how they are interacting with your site. Analyzing where viewers came from and how they engaged with a video will help in planning future video content, as well as provide further insight into how to integrate video into a site when you analyze embedded video.