When measuring the success of video marketing efforts on YouTube, many marketers will use metrics like views to understand their video content performance. But what’s considered a “view” on YouTube? Better yet, how does YouTube count views? Let’s take a closer look.
- How Are YouTube Views Counted on YouTube?
- How Do Repeat Views Factor into View Totals?
- How Are Paid Video Ads Counted?
- Why Do Video View Totals Appear Stuck?
- Why Do YouTube Views Look Different in Analytics?
How Are YouTube Views Counted on YouTube?
Because YouTube wants to be sure that its videos are watched by actual humans and not a bot trying to skew the view count, a video view system has been put in place to separate legitimate views from the rest. YouTube only counts views when the following criteria have been met:
- A user has to physically click the play button to begin the video.
- The video has to be played for at least 30 seconds.
This helps YouTube know that a viewer is intentionally watching a video, tallying it as a “view.”
What does this mean for marketers? Regardless of how long a video is, a view is a good indication that the provided video content was engaging and worth watching. If certain videos are getting a higher number of views compared to others, this can be a guide for what kind of video content to create down the road.
It’s important to note that YouTube videos will continue to receive new views only if they abide by YouTube’s standards. So, for example, embedding a video on a website and forcing it to auto-start will not provide countable views. Nor will purchasing views by using view bots. Attempting these spam workarounds could get your video removed from YouTube, putting you in a position to lose monetization privileges—or worse, get your account suspended.
How Do Repeat Views Factor into View Totals?
Repeat views on YouTube can count toward total views. While not every repeat view will be counted to an overall view total, YouTube understands that its users might see a video and want to watch it multiple times or show it to people within their social circles, so multiple views can happen from one device or account and trigger new views that will be added to the total.
After a certain point—some believe around 4 or 5 views—YouTube will stop counting repeated video views from that device or account within 24 hours. If the same user watches the video again outside of that 24-hour window, the view will be counted again.
How Are Paid Video Ads Counted?
For any brand utilizing YouTube’s TrueView in-stream video ad system—which can display a video on both YouTube and throughout the Google Display Network—view counts work roughly the same as organic views.
Views will be counted when:
- A user watches a complete video ad between 11 and 30 seconds long
- A user watches at least 30 seconds of a longer video
- A user interacts with the ad by clicking on it
Why Do Video View Totals Appear Stuck?
One thing you may notice when looking at YouTube view counts after posting a new video is that the view counter can seem stuck at 301 views for a period of time. When this happens, don’t worry. YouTube puts a hold on videos that get more than 301+ views because it takes their system some time to process views. The reason the platform does this with anything over 301 views is because this is the threshold for being able to monetize a video and show up on the YouTube homepage or in trending searches.
If your video was just posted within the past few hours, it’s likely YouTube’s system is still filtering views to determine which are legitimate and which are coming from bots. After this process is finished, the view count should update more frequently and give you a more accurate representation of your views.
Why Do YouTube Views Look Different in Analytics?
To make matters more confusing, view counts can vary between the video view page, the search page, and your analytics, which means you could be seeing two to three different numbers. Thankfully, there’s a clear explanation of why these view counts look different.
With YouTube Analytics, brands can monitor video views more closely through the Realtime Activity metric. This number is different from the video watch page and search page because it shows the estimate of potential view activity based on your video’s history. So even though the number may be slightly different from what you can see on the video watch page, it’s not an overestimation to inflate numbers. Rather, it’s a way to help brands better understand if their video will see continued success or if views are beginning to level out.
Understanding view counts can help you establish a more robust video marketing strategy for your brand. If you pay attention to which videos are doing well and which ones may be lagging behind in terms of views, you can steer your video production toward video content that’s working and engaging consumers.