What is it?

The “Audience retention” feature in YouTube Analytics reports on the ability of your videos to keep the attention/interest of your audience.

The audience retention of a video is measured in two ways: absolute audience retention and relative audience retention.

  • Absolute audience retention establishes a ratio between the number of views at a given time in the video and the number of views at the very beginning of the video. The curve varies depending on several factors: it can increase if viewers re-watch a certain section or diminish if the viewers skip ahead or leave the video.
  • Relative audience retention compares the audience retention of your video to the average audience retention of all YouTube videos of a similar length.  Just like the absolute audience retention, the curve of relative audience retention increases if viewers re-watch a certain section and diminishes if the viewers skip ahead or leave the video.

What can I take away from this data?

Looking at the audience retention of a video can help you draw several conclusions:

  • Whether or not a video is interesting: if you see that the audience retention rate drops drastically at the beginning of the video, there may be a problem.  Is it your subject choice, or is the title/thumbnail of the video misleading causing people to click but leave the video quickly? Is the video quality good enough?
  • Whether a video is too long: if the audience retention declines gradually over time reaching a rate of 10-30% before the end credits and post-roll, it may mean that your video is too long.  If your video is more 20 minutes you should probably consider cutting your next video into 2 videos that are only 10 to 15 minutes each.

Check if your annotations are being seen and learn where to place them: If you find that there is only 10% of the audience left watching your video when your annotations appear, this most likely means that your annotations are not being seen.  Try to place them earlier or in a section of the video where the retention rate is still high.

Other advice: pay special attention to what you portray in the first 15 seconds of your videos. It is at this point that users are likely to abandon their viewing.

Some Examples

Voici deux exemples de courbes de fidélisation de l’audience relative.

bonne fidlisation

In this first example, we can see that the audience retention rate remains high (above 60%) throughout the duration of the video, and that the audience has not skipped around in the video.  This is a good example of an audience retention curve.

mauvaise fidlisation

On the other hand, in this second example we can see that the audience retention rate collapses very quickly.

There could be several reasons for this problem:

  • The title and the thumbnail of the video do not match the content of the video so there is a gap between what is advertised and the viewer’s expectations. In this case, it is necessary to change the title and thumbnail of the video to be more specific. For example, if the title and thumbnail announce: "Diablo 3 Exclusive," and the video is a video of Diablo 2, the audience will notice it very quickly and will stop watchingr.
  • The video’s main message is revealed too quickly so the audience stops watching.  For example, if you make a video entitled "Top 10 gaming channels" and you tell your audience who the #1 gaming channel is right away,  they will probably stop watching right after you reveal this and be less interested in the other channels.  In this case, it is better to try and keep the content interesting and wait until the end to conclude with your main message.

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