What Is Audience Retention And Why It’s Important

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Audience Retention is an important metric that plays a very big role on YouTube today. In laymen’s terms, audience retention indicates how much your viewers enjoy your videos. Given that YouTube has stated over and over again that their main goal is to keep their viewers happy, engaged, and watching videos, it comes as no surprise that audience retention is YouTube’s favorite metric.

Read on and learn all about the characteristics of audience retention, and see why you need to pay attention to this statistic.

What is audience retention?

Since YouTube decided that all views weren’t the same in quality, they needed a metric that would effectively measure the quality of the views according to their level of engagement. That’s exactly where audience retention steps in:

  • What is audience retention: Audience retention is the metric that displays the average view duration for YouTube videos. In other words, audience retention reveals how far into the video your viewers watch on average.
  • Where can you find the audience retention report: You can find the audience retention rate of your channel by clicking on “My Channel,” then clicking on “YouTube Studio.” The audience retention report can then be found under “Analytics.”

The reason why this YouTube metric is so important is that it gives YouTube a statistical representation of how much your viewers are enjoying your video. For example, if you upload a video that is 10 minutes long, and the viewers have watched 5 minutes on average, the audience retention rate for that video would be 50%.

A good audience retention rate will persuade YouTube into ranking your video better, and will give an overall better organic visibility. Poor audience retention will decrease the chances of your video achieving positive organic growth.

Two types of audience retention

Once you visit your analytics section and you find your audience retention, you will see that there are two types of audience retention you have statistics about:

  • Absolute audience retention: This section will show you which parts of your videos are the most popular. The curve that is displayed on the chart will allow you to analyze the number of views for every part of your video as a percentage of the total number of video views.
  • Relative audience retention: This report will show you how well your video bodes against videos of similar timeframe structure on YouTube.

If the graph is higher, it means that more viewers have watched your video for that timeframe compared to similar videos in length on YouTube.

The difference between Watch Time and Audience Retention

Many YouTubers make the common mistake of comparing watch time and audience retention, while they are actually two different metrics that present different information:

  • Audience retention: Audience retention rate calculates the time the viewer spent watching your videos. The time the viewer spent watching other videos on YouTube afterward are not calculated in the audience retention report. In other words, audience retention rate measures the engagement of your viewers toward your content only.

  • Watch time: Watch Time shows the cumulative minutes gathered from a viewer’s watch session. This includes the time viewers spent watching your videos, and the time they spent watching other videos on YouTube.

The important thing you need to understand is that watch time benefits don’t disappear when a viewer stops watching your video. Watch time calculates the total amount of time a viewer spends on YouTube even after they watch your content.

A watch time session ends when a user gets back to search after watching your content and other suggested videos. This is why it’s good to link out to other videos on YouTube besides your own on some occasions when it really matters.

What is a good audience retention rate?

There isn’t an official benchmark for what a good audience retention rate is, but for the sake of having a benchmark, creators should always strive for an audience retention rate of above 50%.

A great audience retention rate would be somewhere between 60% – 70%. Keep in mind that it is virtually impossible to have an audience retention rate of 100%. Someone is bound to click on your video by accident and will leave the video before it finishes.

Which elements determine the audience retention rate?

By now, you probably want to know which factors lead to a positive audience retention rate and which factors lead to a negative one. While it all depends on the niche you’re in and how your audience accepts your content, these are the general factors that determine the level of your audience retention rate:

  • Content quality: This might just be one of the most monumental factors that determine the level of your audience retention rate. The quality of your content is directly related to how long your viewers stick around to watch your video.
  • Video length: create the optimal video length for your type of content.

  • Video structure: Maybe your intro is too long, or the plot of the video doesn’t fit right. The video structure is very important, that’s why you need to spend time dedicated to creating a video script that will allow your video to move in one seamless sequence, which in return will engage your viewers throughout the whole video.
  • Video production equipment: Nothing says mediocre like a video filmed with a potato with audio that makes your ears bleed. If you don’t invest in decent video production equipment, don’t expect your audience retention to blossom as well.

  • Choosing the right niche: You may be speaking to the wrong audience with your videos. Think really hard about the target audience that is consuming your content. Analyze their geographic location, average age, interests, time zone, and other relevant information that will allow you to precisely create content that is actually interesting and engaging to your audience.

All of the elements listed above have an impact on your audience retention rate.

Why you need to improve your audience retention

What you need to understand is that your audience retention directly affects your ranking on YouTube. It should be plainly obvious that audience retention is something that you should strive to constantly improve, but let’s elaborate on that a bit more:

  • YouTube algorithm: As I mentioned at the beginning of the article, YouTube wants to keep people on the platform watching videos and being entertained. Videos with high audience retention rate suggest to YouTube that their content is keeping people engaged and satisfied with what they consume, therefore YouTube has all the right reasons to favor those videos.
  • Organic growth: When YouTube wants to reward a certain video for a positive audience retention rate, it does it by boosting its ranking. In other words, YouTube will start showing the video in the suggested section, which is one of the best ways to achieve positive organic growth.

Audience retention is an indicator of quality content, one of the most favored metrics by YouTube, and an effective benchmark for every creator to follow. I think that you don’t need to be convinced any further to realize just how important audience retention really is!

How you can improve your audience retention rate

Now that you know which factors have the biggest impact on your audience retention rate, you probably want to learn what to do in order to improve your audience retention. Here are some general techniques that can boost your audience retention rate:

  • High-quality content: There is no substitute for quality content. You can try to fancy up your channel and use a variety of optimization techniques, but in the end, all that matters is whether your content is engaging enough for your viewers. Creating quality, authentic content that offers value should always be your primary concern.
  • The drop-off point: By watching your audience retention report you can spot certain drop-off points that serve as a pattern for when your viewers most frequently stop watching your videos. Maybe you’re making your intros too long, or you’re straying off topic, whatever the reason is you can find it by analyzing your audience retention report and search for a repetitive drop-off pattern.

  • Channel optimization: The way your YouTube channel is optimized can largely determine the interest your potential viewers will take into consuming your content. To optimize your YouTube channel, you’ll need to create a compelling channel homepage, channel trailer, playlists, about page, keywords for your titles, tags, descriptions, end cards, and attractive thumbnails for your videos.
  • A better video structure: Viewers want to be entertained throughout the whole video. It’s pointless to make a great intro only to blow it by making the rest of the video unappealing to watch. This will largely hurt your audience retention which in return will damage your reputation and ranking on YouTube.
  • Buying high-retention views: Sometimes creating quality content isn’t enough for positive audience retention, especially if you don’t have enough social proof. That’s why buying high-retention YouTube views from quality providers is a great way to effectively boost your audience retention rate.

Remember, your audience retention rate is a direct sign of how much your viewers are enjoying your videos. That’s why it’s best to analyze your audience retention rate, see if there is a pattern that most of your viewers are following, and find out what you need to correct in order to generate a better audience retention rate.

Date: January 18, 2019 / Categories: Analytics, Statistics, View Tactics, / Author: Rich Drees


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