Elliot Chan
Elliot Chan 29 June 2018

How to Use Audience Retention Report To Increase YouTube Video Watch Time

Now that you have viewers on YouTube, how do you get them to watch your whole video? Find what you have done well and what could have been better in the Audience Retention report, one of the most valuable dashboard in YouTube Analytics. The Audience Retention report gives you insight into the watchability of your whole channel and individual videos, allowing you to improve your video structure and content going forward.

In this article, we are going to look at the power of YouTube Analytics’ Audience Retention report, and understand how to use the data to take actionable steps to improve your videos.

Why Audience Retention Matters

Audience Retention is the measurement of how much of a video your audience watched.

If you’ve uploaded a 5-minute-long video and the average viewer only watches 1 minute of it, then your Audience Retention rate will be 20%.  

The Audience Retention report tells you something the View metric can’t: Is your content is compelling enough to keep the viewers attention?

No matter how awesome your titles and thumbnails are, your videos need to deliver the goods — and fast. If viewers are skipping certain parts or losing attention, then you’ll need to address your videos’ structure and content.

Having a bad Audience Retention percentage can lead YouTube’s algorithms to lower your video’s ranking. This makes it harder for audiences to find your content in search, thus decreasing your view count, watch time, and all the other important metrics YouTube uses to evaluate your channel.

Using YouTube analytics is essential in creating better videos. To access your analytics, go into Creator Studio, and you’ll be able to find Analytics in the menu on the left-hand side.

How to Use The Audience Retention Report

In the Audience Retention report, you can see the Average Percentage Viewed of all the content in your channel combined. This number lets you know how effective you are in retaining your overall audience.


You can also click into individual videos and see the Average Percentage Viewed by your audience.

Anywhere above 60% is a really good Average Percentage Viewed. But I know you can get even closer to 100% or beyond (you can go above 100% if viewers are re-watching certain parts or the entire video).

What can you do to to make your video more watchable? Here are five things you can add and remove to make your video more enjoyable for your viewers.  

1. Add a Hook

Take a look at the example below, almost half of the viewers that clicked into the video bounced within the first 20 seconds.

What went wrong? How can we fix this?

Right away, we need to hook the audience and assure them that what they are about to watch will have value.

  • If you are telling a story, give a cliffhanger — the part right before hitting the climax is often a good hook.

  • If you are running a tutorial, let the viewers know what steps you are about to address.

  • If you are a vlogger or a gamer, start with something funny to get the viewer’s attention right away.

People want instant gratification. If you aren’t able to give them that, at least let them know there will be a payoff that is worth the wait.

2. Add B-Roll

If you see a steady decline in your Audience Retention, then you’re not keeping your viewer’s attention throughout the video. Due to your audience’s short attention span, even if you are discussing something interesting, the fact that nothing new is appearing on the screen is causing viewers to lose interest. Counter that by adding b-roll or supplemental footage to your videos.

Having more cuts in your video, gives it energy. The same way you should be energetic on camera, the video should also have some life as well.

3. Add a Co-host or a Guest

Even if you think you are incredibly entertaining, which I’m sure you are, having a co-host or a guest in the video with you creates a dialogue. If you know someone who you have good chemistry with then invite him or her to be in the video with you.

You will find that having another person in the video will create a whole new dynamic it wouldn’t have otherwise. You can tell jokes, have debates, and engage in a conversation that you wouldn’t be able to achieve if you are by yourself.

4. Remove Unimportant Content

Take a look at the example below, you will see that there is a sudden spike in views at the 9 minute mark of a video.

A peak in your Audience Retention is a good indication that your viewers are skipping to the part they want to watch. Go into the video and analyze what was skipped, and ask yourself: Was it really important to have that content?

As a creator, you can become precious with your video, not wanting to cut out anything, but you will find that often a more concise video will serve the viewer better. Try it for your next video, be ruthless with your cuts, and only include the most important bits.

5. Remove Abrupt Call to Actions

In the example below, you can see that at end there is a sudden drop off. What it often means is that the viewer is not sticking around to watch you conclude your video.


You can be saying some important stuff there, but the way you stylized it, announced to everyone watching that the video is over and you are merely rolling credits, obliging sponsors, and telling everyone to subscribe or like.

An abrupt call to action is jarring for viewers. This is especially true if it’s not connected to the video they were watching before. This is not saying that you can’t have call to actions in your videos, it simply means that you need to transition into it a bit better. Start by thinking of what you want the viewer to do after watching your video and ask, how can I blend it into the content so that it has value.

After your next set of videos, go into YouTube Analytics and take a look at your Audience Retention. No formula is perfect, and you want to make sure you are structuring and building out content that is best for your viewers. If you notice any dips or spikes, try one of the five tactics in this article to boost your watch time for your next set of videos.

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