How To Measure YouTube Analytics Using Only Google Analytics

Our experts shared 20+ ways to be sure you’re getting the most out of your video marketing through Google Analytics’ YouTube data and tracking abilities

Belynda Cianci Belynda Cianci on January 29, 2020 (last modified on May 28, 2020) • 12 minute read

Content might be king, but in terms of medium, video rules truly rules them all.

By May 2019 estimates, over 500 hours of video content are uploaded to YouTube per minute, according to Statista.

The migration of consumer preferences to video has made it more important than ever to integrate video into your marketing plans. Even more important is effectively measuring the effectiveness of your videos. 

Google Analytics is an excellent way to collect and evaluate the data from your viewers, in order to make decisions about your campaigns. As part of the Google family, YouTube integrates quite easily with Google Analytics, giving users the ability to understand how video fits in the overall marketing strategy. 

But what data points yield the best results in understanding how your video content is performing? We asked 20+ experts for their best tips for understanding Google Analytics’ YouTube data. They had some excellent ideas on getting the most out of the information in getting a clear picture of your videos’ performance and ROI.

The advice given covered several areas: 

  1. Filters, Tags, and Events
  2. Watch/Retention Times
  3. In-house Stats Analysis 
  4. Traffic and Impressions
  5. Optimization
  6. Conversions

Feel free to click on any of the above sections to get more information on a specific data point, or scroll on to get all the best tips from our respondents. 

Filters, Tags, and Events

Many of our experts stress the importance of proper tracking of data through Google Analytics. Though the integration is simple, there are still many ways to explore the data. 

Vinay Amin of Eu Natural gets us started the basics of tracking, “Log into your YouTube account and click on ‘Additional Features’ then ‘Advanced’ On that screen, you’ll enter your Google Analytics tracking ID which will then provide visitor data of your YouTube channel. It’s very easy to get started, says Jonathan Aufray of Growth Hackers. “To track Youtube traffic directly from Google Analytics, you want to create a new property in your Google Analytics account. It’s pretty straight forward: just go to your YouTube channel, open your advanced settings where you will see a field to enter your Google Analytics tracking ID. This is it. It will just take you 5 minutes to do so.”

Andy Crestodina of Orbit Media Studios likes the built-in capabilities provided by YouTube’s parent company and the specific data points it surfaces. “Google makes this easy for you. There’s a built-in YouTube trigger in Google Tag Manager. You need to configure a few variables first, but you can do everything in a few minutes without any programming or custom HTML. Once it’s there, the analysis is the best part. You can finally answer these fun questions: Are your videos getting viewed on your site or on YouTube? How are bounce rates and time on page affected by videos? Would a better custom thumbnail improve your play rates? Without Analytics and event tracking for YouTube plays, you’ll never know…”

The granular data Alex Membrillo of Cardinal SEO Company gets from the use of a tracking code helps by allowing them to focus on a specific metric. “To measure results, I recommend tracking Acquisition. This will allow you to see how people find your channel. On the left sidebar selection Acquisition, then under the dropdown select “Source/Medium.” From here you’ll be able to see traffic sources, such as direct traffic, Google organic search results, or paid traffic. You’ll also see details such as total users, new users, and the number of sessions.”

And Karen Fang of Keyhole says, “Make sure to create a custom UTM tracking URL for every medium that you share your YT videos/channel on to track where the traffic is coming from. This way, you’ll be able to easily identify where a majority of your traffic/views are coming from (Facebook, Instagram, etc).”

Vishal Srivastava of Trainedge Consulting also uses this method, using the code to understand where their viewers are clicking to get to content. “Use UTM parameters in the links in the video description and video CTA. This will clearly identify the video that sent the person to your site and whether the person clicked the link in the description or video CTA.”

Some of our experts prefer to filter the data view to check out just video stats, including Blake Sutton of Electrical Knowledge. “Create a new filtered view that includes only the traffic from YouTube. This will make it easy to analyze the usage data of your YouTube channel page.

Make it easy to analyze the usage data of your YouTube channel page by creating a filtered view which only shows you the traffic from YouTube. This is a simple, three-step process. 1: Go to the ‘Admin’ section of your main view, click on ‘View Settings’ and then click on ‘copy view’ to create a copy of your main view. 2: Name the new view as: *your website name* + ‘YouTube Channel View’. 3: Create a new custom including a filter for this view with this configuration. All done! With this filter, you have a great “big picture” view of your Youtube referrals.”

Editor’s Note: Need to be sure your viewers are staying engaged across all devices? Check out the YouTube Watch Time Performance dashboard for information on watch time performance trends from every place your audience is watching.

Watch/Retention Times

It’s not about traffic or impressions for many of our experts, but in how long they keep people viewing. James McKinven of Striqo says, “Don’t focus on the views on your videos, focus on watch time and conversion rates (if that’s the goal of your YouTube videos). Ensure that the videos are entertaining and have a good thumbnail & title.”

Ronan Walsh of Digital Trawler agrees. “Measure the percentage of video watched at 0%, 25%, 50%, 75% & 100% to understand if the message is truly getting out there. Measuring the number of times the play button is hit measures only the action, but watching 100% of a video – now that’s a Gooooooal!”

This approach also resonates with Dave Warfel of Escape Creative. “I use Google Tag Manager to capture video events in Google Analytics for the videos I embed on my site. Tag Manager makes it easy to capture start, pause, and any number of various watch percentages. I like to capture who has watched 25, 50, 75, 90 and 100% of the video.”

Says Warfel, “You can compare the watch percentages with how many people have clicked the play button, and then see where in your video viewers are dropping off. This can help inform decisions on future videos you make.”

Tags can be used to track viewing behaviors and percentages, says, Kasper Gregersen. “Use Google Tag Manager to track how many video users are watching on your website. Google Tag Manager gives you native support for YouTube video tracking with its YouTube Video trigger. The trigger has built-in events for all the things that you want to know about your users’ behavior: How many start your videos, the percentage the user is watching, and how many have completed the entire video. Connect the trigger to a Google Analytics tag and Google Tag Manager will send all the data into your Google Analytics account for easy tracking and a great overview.” 

Getting all your ducks in a row is the first step, according to Alan K’necht of K’nechtology Inc., who says, “First tip, is to ensure you have actually configured the tracking of your YouTube videos to be properly captured in GA via Google Tag Manager and embed each video somewhere in your site.”

Then, says K’necht, “I would track the number of video views as reported by YouTube, but for the embedded videos on my site, I’d follow the second tip. This allows you to get a better understanding of the videos. The second tip is to know what you want to achieve by having people view your video. Simply start the view, view X seconds or Y percentage of the video or make it to the end of the video? Once you’ve defined your goal, then set an event trigger on it and turn that into a GA Goal. For example, you want to ensure visitors view at least the first 45 seconds of a video, then at the 45-second mark set the trigger. I would then look at what percentage of people who view the video actually make it to that point.” 

Says K’necht, “From there I can say I’m happy with that percentage or not. If not, what does it tell you about the content of the video or the length of video and then apply that knowledge to future videos.”

Alex Cascio of Vibrant Media Productions also relies on watch time is a solid indicator of quality. “Being a video production company that produces a high volume of content, our tip for properly measuring youtube videos/channels in Google analytics has been watch time. If we are consistently seeing low watch times, it is clear that we need to create more attention-grabbing intros, shortening videos, and changing things up to drive engagement.”

The same goes for Cody Patey of Craftswright & Makery, who says, “My #1 tip for using GA to measure YT channel success is paying attention to retention time. That will be your best guideline to tell you if you’re creating entertaining and compelling content or not.

Giant gaps in your retention? Might be time to edit out some of the fluff.

Giant spikes in your retention? What were you doing at that point in the video and can you do more?”

Ché Köhler of Nichemarket uses the watch time as a tool to improve content. “I would look at watch time when optimizing my content so I know how long a visitor is willing to wait to get the answer or how in-depth we should go on a video and cater the video to that audience need! Long-form videos can then be pay-walled or offered in additional click funnels or combined with written content for those who want more in-depth insights!”

Editor’s Note: Get a full view of your video’s performance metrics using the YouTube Overview dashboard. This view allows you to understand how your viewers are engaging with your data, and where the traffic is coming from.

In-House Stats Analysis

When considering the effectiveness of your videos, don’t view numbers in a vacuum, according to Zarar Ameen of CANZ MARKETING. Instead, consider them in terms of your entire video offering. “Comparing the success rate of all your videos against each other is extremely important. Google analytics shares the stats for each of your videos like it does for the individual webpages of your site. So, you know what kind of videos are more popular (i.e what kind of content is your audience looking for, more). Unfortunately, most newbies fail to focus on a jackpot worth of data for optimizing their channel for success. The tip here is to use this data all the time, particularly in the beginning – as a compass to find your direction.”

Traffic data can’t be viewed as a snapshot, according to Daniela Andreevska of Mashvisor. It’s the increase over time that shows the true picture, especially considering the importance of video to marketing efforts. “Make sure to measure and track the rate at which the traffic from YouTube to your website is growing. Video marketing is predicted to become the leading type of marketing in 2020, which means you have to make sure that your traffic from YouTube grows at a rate higher than the traffic from other sources. Otherwise, you need to put more effort into your video marketing strategy to not fall behind others in your industry.”

Dr. Sharon Jones of thedot. Consulting shows us how Google Analytics on YouTube can also be used as research for future content. “ See Which Videos Are Popular on Your YouTube Channel. Because Google Analytics views each video as a web page, you can view key stats for individual videos by clicking on Behavior and Site Content. Then click on All Pages. The metrics shown let you determine which of your videos are the most popular.” This can give you an idea of well-performing videos that might interest your viewers based on historical data. 

Traffic and Impressions

Exploring traffic and impressions can give you ideas on how and what to do with future content. Avinash Chandra of BrandLoom says, “The Number of impressions matters.” Meanwhile, Rahul Singh of GoOnlineTools looks for “the amount of traffic that was generated from your Youtube channel.”

Sometimes it’s not just about how much traffic or how many impressions show up. Mike Falahee of Marygrove Awnings uses analytics “to get a geographical breakdown – Google Analytics allows you to see not only traditional metrics such as ‘traffic’ and ‘user retention.’ It also allows you to see where your views are coming from. This is especially useful for tweaking content to specific audiences.” 

Good Optimization

Giving your videos the best chance of being viewed, means they have the best chance to improve your marketing outcomes. Damien Martin of Shufti Pro says, “If the videos are properly optimized, they can even rank in Google for the target keywords. With the help of Google analytics acquisition, we are able to track the source of the traffic that our website is getting. Bounce rate is another useful metric to analyze your youtube channel success.”

Cayley Vos of Netpaths also relies on optimization stats. In addition to using a filtered approach to viewing data, Vos reminds us: “YouTube video SEO is important, however, most of your video views come from the ‘related videos’ sidebar. It’s more important to optimize for related videos than organic SEO.”


Sometimes the best data isn’t available on analytics. Evan Waters explains, “I think the best way to measure YouTube is actually NOT in Google Analytics. It is usually not appropriate to measure YouTube, a view-based channel, on a click-based methodology. Instead, a simple yet elegant tracking solution is to ask your site’s converting users ‘where did you hear about us?’ This enables a first-view attribution that doesn’t come out of the box with Google Analytics.”

With these tips and tricks, you can be sure you’re getting the most out of your video marketing efforts, tailoring the experience to offer your audience more of what they want, and understand the data flowing back to you from those efforts. It can make a valuable medium even more useful, and give you the perspective needed to create content that continually hits the mark for your users, driving both engagement and conversions.

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