hand holding phone with YouTube on screen
The Seer YouTube Video Marketing GuideChapter three

How to Track Your YouTube Channel & Video Performance

What types of decisions can I make by monitoring video performance?

So, you’re thinking of monitoring video performance. And you should. Video is a strong channel that fulfills a variety of functions, starting from raising awareness all the way to generating conversions by driving users to your site.

Users who come to your site from video may prove to be a valuable consumer base. And, with that base in mind, it’s important to think about how to leverage video data to implement actionable changes to your site and strategy. For instance, you may want to include a CTA at specific drop-off points to drive visitors to your site before they may have left the platform. By optimizing with a CTA in such a way, you encourage these viewers to explore your website and possibly convert.

Certain types of video may resonate more strongly than others, and it’s important to be able to understand what’s driving video performance to be able to apply these learnings appropriately.

In this section, we’ll cover:

How to Setup and Collect YouTube Data

In this article, we’ll review three ways of collecting YouTube video information in Google Analytics:  

  1. Tracking visits to youtube.com via the YouTube/Google Analytics integration
  2. Tracking click-throughs from youtube.com by use of UTM parameters
  3. Tracking engagement with embedded videos on your website

1. Track Visits via YouTube / Google Analytics Integration

The YouTube/Google Analytics integration consists of creating a new Property in Google Analytics for your YouTube account, and then connecting the Tracking ID to your YouTube Account.

This will allow you to gain an understanding of what traffic channels are driving users to your YouTube channel, how often users are visiting your channel, information on return visits and visitors, which pages and videos are most popular as well as which geography related data.

You can access this information in the view for your YouTube Google Analytics property, and the report functions like any other Google Analytics report.

steps to integrate youtube-and google analytics graphic

2. Track Click-Throughs via UTM Parameters

A more complex and nuanced way of collecting data for YouTube videos is by way of UTM parameters. We’re big fans of this approach here at Seer!

UTM parameters are tags that can be added to the end of a URL that allows the URL to be tracked whenever someone clicks on it—for example, the URL card in the video below that drives to seerinteractive.com. The data is then passed along to Google Analytics and can then be viewed within the platform and analyzed.

Simply put, UTM parameters allow for brands to track their video and marketing efforts within Google Analytics, giving them the opportunity to drill down to do a deeper analysis of performance between different videos and content.

track clicks from url cards-with utm parameters graphic

According to Google, there are five parameters you can add to your URLs and each parameter must contain a value that you assign (e.g. utm_source=”parameter value”). It is not necessary to use all five parameters. Seer recommends using them strategically to collect as much meaningful information as possible. Here’s a quick overview of each of these five parameters:

  1. utm_source: Identify the advertiser, site, publication, etc. that is sending traffic to your property, for example: google, newsletter, billboard. The utm_source for a YouTube video campaign would contain “youtube”, for example, or something that identifies that the click is from a YouTube video, specifically.
  2. utm_medium: The advertising or marketing medium, for example: cpc, banner, email newsletter. An example utm_medium for a YouTube video would be “video” for clicks coming from an actual YouTube video, versus an example utm_medium for clicks coming from elsewhere in YouTube, such as description cards could be “referral”.
  3. utm_campaign: The individual campaign name, slogan, promo code, etc. for a product, e.g. “summer_youtube_campaign”
  4. utm_term: Identify paid search keywords. If you’re manually tagging paid keyword campaigns, you could use utm_term to specify the keywords that the user is coming in through. However, this field is flexible and you should use whatever data point you think will help you make a better analysis. In some cases, we’ve used the link location as the parameter here to specify where a user is clicking from if there are multiple links on the same page. Think through what you might want to track and leverage it in these more flexible parameters. For instance, if you have a link in your description and a link in your video, you would have two URLs with two separate utm_terms, e.g. utm_term=descriptionlink and utm_term=videolink.
  5. utm_content: Used to differentiate similar content, or links within the same ad. For example, if you have two call-to-action links within the same email message, you can use utm_content and set different values for each so you can tell which version is more effective. For instance, if you have two different CTA’s in the same video you could put the CTA in the parameter to analyze which is more effective.

sample url with utm parameters graphic

Once your parameters are set, they can then be analyzed in Google Analytics in the campaigns reports by looking at Source, Medium, Source/Medium, Ad Content, Ad Term.

3. Track Engagement via Embedded YouTube Videos

Aside from having video content directly on YouTube, there is an option to embed YouTube videos on your website. However, you’ll want to make sure you’re adding the appropriate tracking to collect data on YouTube video interactions on your own website. Google Tag Manager contains a built-in YouTube video tracking trigger and accompanying variables. These variables allow you to tag video interactions for embedded YouTube videos with no custom coding required.

Well, almost. GTM’s built-in YouTube tagging only partially supports embedded videos and it’s a slightly more complicated process. Seer created an easy-to-implement small script that can be loaded via GTM on pages with embedded videos (for more information on GTM, read our beginner’s guide to GTM here).

Measurement & Analysis of YouTube Data

In terms of reporting, Google Analytics advanced segments provide a powerful way to report on YouTube performance and how it translates to on-site behavior.

YouTube data can be identified by going to Acquisition > All Traffic > Source/Medium and then searching for YouTube as the source (or however you have chosen to identify YouTube through the utm_source parameter).

Using this source/medium, you can build a custom segment in Google Analytics that lets you analyze on-site behavior of users coming in through YouTube.

Additionally, you can also filter down to individual videos by adding in conditions for the remaining 4 utm parameters, isolating specific content, and analyzing performance for each individual video.

The YouTube segment can be applied to all of GA’s standard reporting capabilities to understand what page paths users are taking, what their on-site interactions are (depending on the type of event tracking you have set up), and where they’re leaving the site. You can get even more granular and drill all the way down to lower funnel conversions, including goal completions and ecommerce transactions if your website has Enhanced Ecommerce enabled (something else Seer can help with).

YouTube Analytics Features

Combined with UTM parameters, as well as GA’s advanced segments, you can unearth significant, actionable information about your YouTube visitors that can lead to on site optimizations, content ideas, and audience insights.

Aside from GA’s reporting, there are a couple of elements that are especially interesting within the YouTube Analytics platform itself that we’d like to call out.

Audience Retention Reports

These reports provide data regarding user watchtime—right down to the specific minute so you can see where users are dropping off in your video. You can then use specific CTAs to keep them engaged or drive them to the site before they drop off. It’s a powerful way to keep your users engaged or drive them further down the funnel.

Audience Retention Reports Example

Playback Locations

This shows you whether users are viewing your video on the YouTube page itself or via embedded videos on other pages. (Note: If they’re viewing embedded videos on your site more often—that’s an indication to implement YouTube tracking on your page through Google Tag Manager.)

Playback Locations Example

Traffic Sources

This tells you where users are coming to your site from and can be a useful indicator of whether they’re searching for your video or finding it organically through related content. If they’re coming to your video through related content, that can be used to generate additional content ideas.

Traffic Sources Example

Bringing it all Together

Now that you’ve learned more about tracking and analytics best-practices for your YouTube videos, you can use it to bolster your knowledge of optimizing current and future videos and gaining a deeper understanding of goals and KPIs to look for when promoting your YouTube video ads.