A Guide to Measuring Impact on YouTube

What online actions do you want your audience to take on YouTube?

Users can interact and engage in your stories by viewing, Liking or Disliking, Subscribing, Sharing, Adding to Playlists and Commenting.

Sharing is an important feature, as it allows viewers to share videos with their networks via other social media platforms.

  1. Add to. Increase engagement.
  2. Comment. Increase engagement.
  3. Like/Dislike. Increase engagement.
  4. Share. Increase reach and engagement.
  5. Subscribe. Increase reach.
  6. Views. Increase reach.

How can I measure YouTube actions?

If you are engaging in digital storytelling on this platform, you should ideally aim to see your Subscribers, Views, Likes, Shares, Favorites and Comments increase and, at the very least, not decrease.

YouTube Analytics is a built-in feature that allows you to regularly assess your channel’s performance through changes or trends across the key metrics mentioned above.

By tracking metrics through YouTube Analytics, you have access to 1) View reports which track Views, demographics, playback locations, traffic sources, devices and audience retention and 2) engagement reports which track Subscribers, Likes and Dislikes, Favorites, Comments, sharing and annotations.

Details on YouTube Analytics and reports are available online.

YouTube Nonprofit Program is another resource for information specific to nonprofits.

View Reports


View reports contain data about number of views, estimated minutes watched, where viewers are geographically and viewership over a specified date range. Data is updated once a day, which means that the numbers displayed in these reports may differ from the public values displayed on the video page, channel page, Video Manager, or other sources.

YouTube View Report - Views.

The aggregate data includes views and estimated minutes watched from YouTube.com, the embedded player, and mobile YouTube applications.

Information on location your videos were watched from is also available.


Demographics reports help you understand the age range and gender distribution of your audience and is based on logged-in users on all devices.

YouTube View Report - Demographics.

You can adjust the date range and geographic region to see how the breakdown of your audience varies. The data is available in both interactive graphs and the chart at the bottom with numerical data.

Playback Locations

Playback Locations reports document information on where your video was played, such as YouTube watch page or mobile devices, external apps or other websites.

YouTube View Report - Playback Locations.

Audience Retention

Audience Retention reports are an overall measure of your video’s ability to retain its audience. This is a valuable tool to indicate whether viewers are finding your videos compelling.

YouTube View Report - Audience Retention.

Types of audience retention: 

“Absolute audience retention” shows the views of every moment of the video as a percentage of the number of video views. Pay close attention to the first 15 seconds of every video - that’s when viewers are most likely to drop off.

“Relative audience retention” shows your vide’s ability to retain viewers during playback in comparison to all YouTube videos of similar length. The higher the graph at any given moment, the proportionately more viewers kept watching your video over the preceding seconds of playback versus other videos at that same moment in their playbacks.

Traffic Sources

Traffic Sources reports track information on where the viewers found your content, such as YouTube suggested videos, YouTube search, links from social networking websites like Twitter or Facebook, etc.

YouTube View Report - Traffic Sources.

Engagement Reports


Subscribers reports show how you’ve gained and lost subscribers across different content, locations and dates.

YouTube Engagement Report - Subscribers.

This section helps you understand your effectiveness at building a base of subscribers, spot videos which drove subscriptions and unsubscriptions, and identify locations where your content is particularly popular.

Likes and Dislikes

Likes and Dislikes reports show you how many Likes and Dislikes you gained in total and for individual videos.

YouTube Engagement Report - Likes and Dislikes.


Favorites reports display how many people marked your content as Favorite and how many removed it from their Favorites. You can see the cumulative number of Favorites over a selected date range and location.

YouTube Engagement Report - Likes and Dislikes.


Comments reports summarize how many people are commenting on your videos.

YouTube Engagement Report - Comments.


Sharing reports include how many times your content has been shared through the Share button on YouTube, and what sites viewers are using to share your videos (e.g. Facebook, tumblr, and Blogger).

YouTube Engagement Report - Sharing.


Annotations reports have data on the performance of video annotations and provides engagement information such as Click-through rate and Close rate for annotations and videos.

YouTube Engagement Report - Annotations.

Impressions. Number of times an annotation was displayed.

Clickable impressions. Number of times an annotation with the option to click further was displayed.

Closeable impressions. Number of times an annotation with the option to close it was displayed.

Click-through rate. The percentage of clickable annotations that received clicks.

Close rate. The percentage of annotation impressions that were closed by the viewer.

Clicks. Number of clicks on annotations.