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Measurement is key, both for defining success and optimizing towards it. In this section, we'll present you with tools that will help you track metrics around all of your paid, owned and earned media on YouTube. We'll also help you select KPIs that make sense for your objectives.

Identify Your Key Metrics

YouTube can effectively shift a number of your most important branding metrics. The key is to decide what success looks like and then translate that into metrics that are relevant for YOUR brand. See "Guiding Principles" in Build a Content Plan. We’ve highlighted a number of metrics that might work for your business. We strongly recommend focusing on no more than two or three.

Most brands find it useful to select one metric for each of the three buckets that measure engagement with your content:

  • Audience: Are you reaching the right audience? How well?
  • Expression: Is your target audience engaging with your content? How much?
  • Participation: Is your audience endorsing and sharing your content? How much?

For each metric your decide to track, the YouTube platform allows you to specify the results for three types of media:

Paid: Paid media can ensure your content surfaces to the right audience.

Owned: Expressing your brand through compelling videos is key to creating authentic, long-term relationships with your audience.

Earned: Earned media ties paid to owned media. Measuring this earned effect will help you optimize for more impact.


Are your videos attracting an audience?

  • Example Key Success Metric: Number of views
  • Paid: Percent of paid views
  • Owned: Percent of organic views
  • Earned: Percent of earned views


How long is your audience watching your content?

  • Example Key Success Metric: Watch time
  • Paid: Paid watch time (until :30 mark)
  • Owned: Organic watch time
  • Earned: Number of earned views x average watch time


Is your audience endorsing or sharing your content?

  • Example Key Success Metric: Number of shares
  • Paid: Measured in owned media
  • Owned: Number of shares
  • Earned: Number of earned shares
Tip: The YouTube Analytics API can be configured to schedule regular reports on specific metrics.

KPI Summary

This list includes a fairly complete vision of different potential metrics you can measure on YouTube.

To properly track your efforts, you should pick only two or three metrics, depending on your specific objectives. The other metrics can be used for diagnostics or optimization.


How did your audience discover your videos?

  • Paid: Search share of voice on category terms, and topics and keywords triggering the ads
  • Owned: Sites, videos, and keywords that drove traffic to your videos, and location and device where your videos were watched

Are your videos driving a strong audience?

  • Paid: Number of paid views or the percentage of audience rached via paid
  • Owned: Number of organic views
  • Earned: Number of earned views

Did you reach your target audience?

  • Paid: Demographic breakdown, unique viewers and frequency
  • Owned: Demographic breakdown, unique cookies per day


How long is your audience watching your content?

  • Paid: Paid watch time
  • Owned: Organic watch time
  • Earned: Number of earned views x watch time

Do you capture your audience's attention?

  • Paid: Video ad completion rate
  • Owned: Audience Retention curve

Is your audience engaging around your videos?

  • Paid: Users can engage around ads, but the metrics around those actions are reported in the Owned bucket.
  • Owned: Number of subscribers or percentage of audience subscribes
  • Earned: Number of earned subscribers

Did your videos drive traffic to other videos/your site?

  • Paid: Website clicks (through click on ad or call to action), conversions (both click-based and view-through)
  • Owned: Clicks on cards


Is your audience endorsing or sharing your content?

  • Owned: Number of shares or percentage of audience shares, number of comments, number of likes, number of favorites
  • Earned: Earned comments, likes, or favorites

Tracking Tools Overview

YouTube Analytics

  • Very easy, accessible tool that will help you measure the audience watching your YouTube videos.
  • Main focus on owned metrics; includes a few paid metrics.
  • The View reports help you understand who watches your videos, how they’re found and where they’re watched.
  • The Engagement reports give you insight into how users engage around your videos.
  • Visit YouTube Analytics to learn more.

YouTube Analytics API

  • Advanced tool to create tailored reports, only to be used with engineering resources.
  • Main focus on owned metrics; includes a few paid metrics.
  • Most of the metrics available in YouTube Analytics are also available on the API.
  • Visit YouTube Analytics API to learn more.


  • Easy, accessible tool that will help you measure your video advertising efforts.
  • Main focus on paid metrics; includes earned metrics.
  • The Campaign tab gives you an overview of key paid metrics and show you how efficiently your media budget is spent.
  • The Ads, Target and Video tabs break down the metrics to a very granular level; excellent data for optimization efforts.
  • Visit AdWords to learn more.