About YouTube ads and view metrics

This article describes YouTube ad metrics that help you analyze the performance of your video ads. You can learn about metrics such as impressions, views, engagement, and clicks, and the type of audience you’re reaching.

This article covers the following topics:

Note: While it is possible to upload videos directly to Google Ads to be used in your video ads, certain video metrics are only available for video content hosted on YouTube. As a best practice, we recommend hosting your video on YouTube for your Video campaign so that you have the most available metrics to gauge your performance. It is also a best practice to link your YouTube account to your Google ads account, as doing so makes earned actions (and other functionality) available within your account.

Understanding fundamental video metrics

There are several ways you can measure how viewers interact with your video ads. Each metric has its own benefit and can help you determine which ads are most effective.

Types of YouTube video metrics

Learn more about YouTube video metrics, including impressions, paid views, organic views, Interactions, Engagement, View rate, “Video played to” metrics, Earned actions, Viewability and Active View metrics, Display Impression Share metrics, and Brand lift metrics.

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Impressions

Impressions reveal your campaign's reach and how often viewers are exposed to the in-feed thumbnail or the initial in-stream portion of your video.

  • In-stream ad impressions: This metric is counted when the video starts playing on the watch page before, during, or after the viewer’s organic video starts playing.
  • In-feed impressions: This metric is counted when the viewer views the thumbnail of the video.
Paid views

Paid views reveal the number of times viewers view a larger portion or the entirety of your ad, beyond just the impression.

  • In stream ad views: This metric is counted when the viewer watches 30 seconds or until the end of the video, whichever comes first. Interactions on the ad can also increment the view count.
    • For example, the following count as a view for in-stream ads:
      • A viewer watches the entirety of a 20-second video ad.
      • A viewer watches 32 seconds of a 40-second video ad.
      • A viewer clicks an interactive element of the ad at 18 seconds (which is both a click and a view increment) of a 20-second ad.
Note: When a viewer clicks on elements of your video ad such as calls-to-action (CTA), cards, banners, thumbnails, or logos before the view is incremented, a click and a view will be counted.

In-feed ad views: This metric is counted when the video watch page loads after the viewer has clicked the thumbnail and is taken to the video watch page.

Some exceptions to counting views include:

  • In-stream ad views (Non-bumper): If you upload a video that’s less than 10 seconds long, you’ll see views in Google Ads but it won’t increment views in YouTube Analytics or on the public view count on the watch page.
  • Bumper and non-skippable ad views: Views are not counted in Google Ads or on the external watch page. You can’t access your data off of "Users that viewed my ad".

What if a view is already incremented and then a click occurs? Does it count as a second view?

No. In this instance, we would only increment a click and not a second view.

Is a click on the in-feed thumbnail counted as a click?

No. It only increments the view count after the watch page loads.

Why are there variances in views across my reporting sources?

Some variances between views you see reported in Google Ads, in YouTube Analytics, and on the public watch page (which is populated via YouTube Analytics) is expected. This is primarily due to differences in the recency of their data (varied “freshness” or refresh rate), differing spam thresholds, and differing eligibility for ads counted on the public view count which include non-bumper in-stream, bumper and non-skippable ad views. Learn more about the differences between Google Analytics and YouTube view data

Can I still create audience lists of users who have already seen my videos or channel for formats that don’t increment the view count?

Audience lists dependent on a view (for example, 'Viewed any video from a channel’) aren't compatible with formats that don't increment the view count such as bumpers, non-skippable, and instream ads less than 10 seconds. You can create the lists in your account, they'll just have no users added to them as these users are not incrementing the view count to be added to the audience list.
Organic views

When a viewer watches your video without any prompts such as ads, it’s called an organic view. A view occurs when a person watches your video. In order to preserve accuracy in view counts, irregular playbacks (like spam) are removed from the public view count metrics. In incrementing view count, YouTube algorithmically determines user intent.

Organic views have different criteria for what counts as a view compared to paid ads views. Refer to paid views and understand the differences between Google Analytics and YouTube Analytics view data section below.

Interactions
The “Interactions” column reflects Engagements for Video campaigns. Engagements represent the main action associated with an ad format. Learn more About engagements reporting
Unlike views, engagements are counted after 10 seconds of viewership. For videos longer than 10 seconds, engagements give you a sense of viewers who watched more than an impression, but not a full view (though viewers can complete a full view and count as an engagement). Learn more About Engaged-view conversions
Interactions help you compare the value and performance of your Search, Video, and Display campaigns. For example, you can use Interactions to compare the value of a Search click compared to a Video view. Interactions consolidate the reports of your various campaign types, giving you a comprehensive understanding.
Make sure to refer to the "Engagements" section below for a better understanding.
Engagements
Before you begin, make sure to refer to the "Interactions" section above for a better understanding.
For videos longer than 10 seconds, engagements give you a sense of the frequency of viewers engaging beyond just the impression (or using the skip button), but don’t always complete the full view. The table below outlines the format, criteria, and other information about engagements:

Format

Engagement criteria

Can views increment?

How is it reported if there’s a click?

In-stream ads and video app promotion ads

Video less than 10 seconds:

Viewers watch full video or click ad.

Video over 10 seconds:

Viewers watch over 10 seconds or click ad.

Yes, if the view criteria is met.

Video less than 10 seconds:

Counts as a click and engagement. View counts in Google Ads, but not on public view count.

Video over 10 seconds:

Counts as a click, view, and engagement.

In-feed video ads

Viewers watch 10 seconds of the video ad when it's muted or click the thumbnail to view the full video on the watch page (the click counts as a View, not reported as a click).

Yes, if the view criteria is met.

In this scenario, the click isn't referring to the "click" on the thumbnail that took the viewer to the watch page. Instead, a click is automatically counted as a view and engagement when a viewer is on the watch page, and that click would be reported in addition to the view and engagement already reported.

Bumper and non-skippable in-stream

Viewers must click ad.

No, even if there’s a click.

Click and engagement are counted.

  • Engaged-view (also “Engagements”): This metric, which is not seen in Google Ads, refers to the engagements seen in the “Interactions” column when viewers view a Video campaign.
  • Engagement rate: This is measured as the number of times people engage with your ad divided by the number of times your ad is shown. Engagement rate helps you determine the percent of impressions that resulted in an engagement. Recall that the view rate formula is views / impressions. So, it’s similar to the view rate, except it’s not as strong of a signal because Engagements use less strict criteria when counting compared to views.

Engagement rate = engagements / impressions

View rate (previously known as View-through rate (VTR))
The view rate helps you determine the percent of impressions that resulted in a view. It attests to how compelling your ad is. View rate helps you answer the question- “Of the people who were prompted with your ad, what percentage were counted as a view?” A low view rate might suggest that the initial portion of your creative wasn’t compelling enough. 10-15% is considered average across all industries, but it can vary significantly. Learn more with A playbook for building effective creative on YouTube
View rate = views / impressions
Note: While the strict definition of view rate is the same across video formats, the individual formats have different criteria for what is considered an Impression or a view. Keep these differences in mind when comparing view rate performance (Review view and impression definitions above).
Maximum cost per view (max. CPV)

This is the bid you set for your campaign or ad group. It should be the highest amount you're willing to pay for a view in the auction.

Average cost per view (avg. CPV): This helps you determine on average how much you're paying for a view, and the cost effectiveness of your ad(s) based on views as a main goal of your campaign. CPV is most valuable when it’s used as a means for comparison between ads, ad groups, and campaigns (isolated metrics are not as insightful). You can then determine which strategies are working best based on your budget.

Average cost per view = cost / views

What’s a good CPV?

“Good” is subjective. Average CPVs vary by format, industry, seasonality, and other factors. Your best benchmark is your historical campaign data (for example, how cost effective is Ad Group A compared to Ad Group B in your campaign).

Why does my Avg. CPV exceed my max. CPV?

This can be observed because you are viewing a date range when the max. CPV was changed. For example:

Day 1-5 your max. CPV is $0.20.

Day 6-10 your max. CPV is $0.10.

If you check the max. CPV on day 10, your account will show the max. CPV of $0.10. However, if your date range is day 1-10 you’re including days 1-5 where the max. CPV was higher. The avgerage CPV you find reported might be higher than $0.10 in your reporting from the days where your max bid was higher. Check your change history and filter for bid changes to see if a date range overlaps with when your max. CPV was lowered.
"Video played to" metrics

"Video played to'' metrics count the percentage of people who watched 25%, 50%, 75%, or 100% of the video out of the viewers who initiated the player. The point at which the video player is initiated will differ for different formats (for example, with in-stream, videos start playing automatically. For in-feed, this occurs when the viewer is taken to the watch page after clicking the thumbnail).

Quartile reporting can be used alongside your other metrics, such as view rate and audience retention (found in your YouTube Analytics data) to check roughly where in your video users are dropping off. If you find a steep drop off at certain points, figure out what it is about your ad creative that might be leading to that (outside of expected behavior). For example, it’s common to find a steep drop off of users after 5 seconds for in-stream ads when the skip button appears for users.

Here's an example of the 25% quartile metrics:

“Video Played to 25%” Percentage = # of viewers still watching after 25% of the video has elapsed                                                                     # of times the video player is initiated

How it works:

  1. 10 users start watching your 20 second ad
  2. 5 users drop off (they close the browser or click to another video) at 13 seconds
  3. 3 users drop off at 18 seconds
  4. 2 users watch the whole ad

Your quartiles would be:

Quartile

% played to

Explanation of % played to

25%:

100%

100% of the ten users are still watching after 5 seconds

50%:

100%

100% of the ten users are still watching after 10 seconds

75%:

50%

50% of the ten users are still watching after 15 seconds

100%:

20%

20% (2 of the 10) users are still watching at the end of the ad

Why aren’t views or the view rate matching up with my quartile reporting if I try to back into them with manual calculations?

You can’t track in-feed ad format manually, and dividing the 100% played to / impressions will not match the view rate. Note that for in-feed ads, impressions = / = “when the video player is initiated”.

A view is also counted if someone engages with the video (by way of a click on display URL, companion banner, or ad assets, if any). If a viewer watches only 15 seconds of a 20-second video and then clicks on the display URL to go to the landing page, this would be counted as a view and increment the view rate. But since the video has not been watched until the end, this would not qualify for a “100% video played to” metric.

The quartiles aren’t as accurate as the mechanism that increments the view count. The quartile reporting is intended to be directionally helpful to show you where viewers are dropping off in your video. It should not be used to back into your view metric to confirm accuracy of either metric, as it’s likely to vary slightly.

Earned actions

An earned action includes earned views, likes, subscribers, playlist additions, and shares. They occur when someone views your video ad, then within 7 days after the initial view performs an action on your linked YouTube channel(s). You aren't charged for earned actions. Multiple views from the same person are counted as a single earned view.

Earned actions are a great way to get insight into free of charge added value that your campaign has helped result in. It demonstrates a strong affinity for your channel or brand, and often is a strong indicator of a high-value customer.

Note: Earned actions can occur on any channel linked to your account. For example, if a viewer watches an ad on Channel A and counts as a view, then navigates to Channel B and likes a video, the like on Channel B would be an earned like as long as Channel B is also linked to the Google Ads account.

Why am I not seeing reports for the earned views / earned subscribers metric?

If personalized ads are turned off on one or more YouTube channels linked to a Google Ads account, you won't see reporting for earned actions. To see reporting for earned actions, that box must be unchecked. To change the option, log into your YouTube account and navigate to the YouTube Studio. In the bottom left corner, go to “Settings” > "Channel" > "Advanced Settings" > Scroll down to find the “Disable interest-based ads” checkbox.

Make sure that you have the “Engagement” box checked when you link your YouTube account to your Google ads account. To verify, go to your Google Ads account, click "Tools and Settings” > "Linked Accounts" > "YouTube". In the “Permissions” column, you will see a bullet for “Engagement” if it was enabled when the account was linked.

Keep in mind that if you disable personalized ads for some YouTube channels and enable them for other channels, you’ll still see earned action reports in their Google Ads account, but not which channel the earned actions came from in reporting.

Viewability and Active View (Disambiguation)
Viewability relates to all campaign types, and it’s not video-focused. An ad is “viewable” when at least 50% of its area is visible for 1 second in Display Network ads, or 2 seconds for video ads. This metric is included here to help distinguish it from other video related metrics. Learn more about Understanding viewability and Active View reporting metrics
Display impression share metrics

Video impression share can be checked by pulling impression share metrics, as YouTube is part of the Google Display Network.

Impression share helps you answer the question “Of the available inventory you can show based on the settings and targeting in your campaign, how much of it are you showing impressions on?”. This metric can help you understand the following:

  1. If your impression share is less than 100%, it means raising your bid or budget could help you show more often. To determine if it’s bid vs. budget that needs to be raised, check the “Impression Share Lost” columns.
  2. If your impression share is 100% but you aren’t spending your budget in full, it means you can expand your targeting.
  3. If you notice a fluctuation in your volume of impressions, you can check “Display Lost IS to Rank” (it is best to segment by day in your reporting). If you notice a shift on a day you saw your traffic shift, it likely means your competitors raised their bids, causing you to lose auctions. Raise your bid to remain competitive and win auctions at your previous levels.
Brand lift metrics
Brand Lift is not available in all accounts. To have Brand Lift enabled, you must have a dedicated Google Ads representative. If you have a dedicated representative, reach out to them to request it be enabled. Learn more to Understand your Brand Lift measurement data

Metrics to prioritize based on your campaign goals

While many metrics are reported across campaign types, certain ones should have a much higher priority when assessing your campaign's success based on your selected campaign goals. For example, if you're running a campaign with “Brand awareness and reach” as the objective, conversions might be reported, but it shouldn't be a key metric to help you assess the success of your campaign.

How “Brand awareness and reach” metrics work

If you’ve selected “Brand awareness and reach’’ (or Video Ad Sequencing within “Product or brand consideration”) as the objective of your campaign during campaign setup, in addition to Impressions, Unique Reach, and Avg. Impression Frequency, the following metrics should be a focus to assess your campaign’s success:

  • Maximum cost-per-thousand impressions (max. CPM): This is the bid you set for your campaign or ad group. This should be the highest amount you are willing to pay for 1,000 Impressions in the auction.
  • Average cost-per-thousand impressions (avg. CPM): CPM helps you determine on average how much you’re paying per 1,000 impressions. Be aware that a good avg. CPM varies by country because there are different minimums that need to be met for CPM bids.

CPM = cost / ( impressions / 1,000 )

CPM shows the cost effectiveness of your ads based on impressions as the main goal of your campaign. CPM is most valuable when it's used as a means for comparison between ads, ad groups, and campaigns (compared to an isolated metric, which is not as insightful).

  • "All video sequence impressions" (All video seq. impr.): This is the number of impressions from your video ad sequence campaigns combined with impressions from other campaigns that advanced the progress of your sequence campaigns. Because viewers progress through a sequence’s video ads regardless of the campaign that shows the video, this metric shows how campaigns outside of sequence campaigns helped advance sequences, which can result in more sequence completions and lower cost.

A viewer should've at least one impression from the video sequence for an impression from outside the sequence to be included here. Keep in mind that this metric also includes impressions from Display & Video 360 accounts linked to your Google Ads account.

How “Sales”, “Website Traffic”, and “Leads” metrics work

If you’ve selected ‘Sales’, ‘Website Traffic’ or ‘Leads’ as the objective of your campaign during campaign setup, the following metrics should be a focus to assess your campaign’s success:

  • View-through conversions (VTC): View-through conversions (“View-through conv.”) are conversions that are recorded when users get served an impression for your ad (but aren’t counted as a view or click), and then convert on your site within the conversion window (the length of the conversion window is determined by when the conversion is created in the account).

This metric automatically excludes conversions from people who have also interacted with any of your other ads. The last impression of a video ad will get credit for the view-through conversion.

A view that leads to a conversion is counted in the “Conversions” column and not in the VTC column. VTCs help you bridge the gap between the top and the bottom of your purchase funnel. If you look at just conversions, you might miss capturing the impact your ads had for users that converted based just on an impression.

  • Clicks and Click-through rate (CTR): Clicks, which occur when theviewer clicks an interactive element of your ad, and CTR (Clicks / Impressions) for Video campaigns shouldn’t typically be considered a priority compared to impressions or views (if your goal is awareness) or conversions (if your goal is sales). Low clicks and CTR, is fairly normal in Video campaigns, compared to Search campaigns.

Clicks and CTR within Video campaigns are typically not metrics that you should have as a priority to determine campaign success. It can be an indicator of how well your ad prompts users to take action upon seeing your ads, but the primary metric with which conversions are given attribution to your Video campaigns is ‘views’ (for example, a click is not required for your campaign to get credit for a conversion, but a view is).

  • Conversions: In Video campaigns, conversions are measured when a viewer is counted as a view for your ad and then takes an action that you’ve defined as valuable to your business, such as an online purchase or a call to your business from a mobile phone. Learn more About conversion tracking

What about bumper ads? They don’t increment the view so can they increment the conversion column?

Yes, but only if the viewer has clicked the ad. If a viewer clicks a bumper ad, a click will be incremented, but not a view. If they then convert, they’ll be counted as a conversion instead of a view-through conversion.
  • Engaged-view conversions (EVC): Engaged-view conversions are counted when a viewer doesn't click on your video ad but watches at least 10 seconds of the skippable ad (skippable after 5 seconds) and then converts within the Engaged-view conversion window. To check EVC reporting within Google Ads, click on Segment > Select Conversions > Ad Event Type.
    Note: If a viewer is counted as a View and an Engaged-view (within watching the same video) and then converts, they’ll increment both the “Conversion” column and the “Engaged-view conversion” column.
    Video is immersive and effective, but unlike other ad formats, viewers don't always interact with video ads in the moment—they often take action later, after their viewing session. EVCs capture the non-click value of the ad in a way that is most closely aligned with the engaged viewer behavior on the platform. Think of them as a “mid-lower funnel point" when viewed next to “View-through Conversions” (top of the funnel, based on the viewer just seeing an impression first) and conversions (bottom of the funnel, based on user counting as a view first).
  • Conversion rate (CVR): CVR gives insight into how effective your ad is at getting users to your site and converting after being counted as a view. Like many of the other metrics, a good CVR is very dependent on the advertiser industry.

CVR = Conversions / Views

Understanding the differences between Google Ads and YouTube Analytics view data

Note: Some level of discrepancy between reporting sources is common and in some cases expected. The below information helps to make sure you’re making accurate comparisons and set expectations on what’s considered (ab)normal after you’ve confirmed you’re making a fair comparison.

For easier understanding, we’ve abbreviated platform names in the below section as follows:

GA = Google Ads

YTA = YouTube Analytics

PWP = Public Watch Page (also known as the public view count you see under a video)

YouTube Analytics vs. Public Watch Page

The Public Watch Page is populated based on the data from YouTube Analytics so generally these should be fairly close. For very popular videos with large amounts of views in a short amount of time, you might see a bit of variance if looking at today’s date, but typically you shouldn’t see this looking at a date 48-72 hours old.

Google Ads vs. YouTube Analytics

While some discrepancies between reporting sources are expected, often when users see differences in reporting it is because they are investigating an ad format that can't increment views or they are making a comparison that is not a fair one to be making (that is, they're actually comparing two different things). It's recommended to rule out the following before concluding that any discrepancies you find in reporting are from the expected level of variance between the 2 platforms:

  • Confirm the video length is over 10 seconds (ideally over 11 seconds to avoid issues): Since YouTube Analytics doesn’t track views for videos less than or equal to 10 seconds in length (you'll see them reported in GA, but not YTA), if your video is less than 10 seconds, it will result in a discrepancy between GA and YTA.
If your video is fractions of a second above 10 seconds (that is, 10.2 seconds) after video compression upon upload, this can sometimes cause it to fall just below 10 seconds. Uploading a video above 11 seconds can help you avoid this. Note that compression is very minimal and is imperceptible to a user viewing your video.
  • Confirm the ad format is eligible to accrue views: As noted in the views section of the article, not all ad formats accrue views. If you see 0 views reported in Google Ads, this can be expected. Learn more about views.
  • Confirm you are comparing the same data set:
    • Only compare paid views: The "Views" report in YTA will display organic and paid views, where GA only shows paid views. To make sure you are only comparing paid views in the two sources, you must use the traffic sources report in YTA and only look at the paid views row.
    • Make sure that all campaigns using your video are being compared: For example, let’s assume that you check your paid views in the traffic sources report and find that you received 1,000 paid views, but in GA your campaign only reports 500 paid views. This might be because the same video is being used as an ad in another campaign in the same or different GA account. Check your account(s) to check if the same video is being used in other campaigns. YTA would calculate the aggregate of those views.
  • Avoid comparing very recent data:
    • Allow YTA to have at least 72 hours to update its data (since the data shown in traffic sources is on a 48- to 72-hour delay). If you’re comparing data within the last 2-3 days in the traffic sources report and you find a discrepancy, it might be due to normal data delays and will update if you wait a few days. Data reported in GA is only delayed a few hours.
    • YTA data is reported in the Pacific Standard Time zone whereas GA data would be in the time zone set in the account. Viewing an older date range also helps avoid time zone differences.
  • Expected discrepancies: If you've confirmed the above (video length, same data source, no data delay) and are still seeing a discrepancy, this is likely due to a few known sources of discrepancies between these 2 sources:
    1. The YouTube ad player is built to create a smooth advertising video experience, and every millisecond counts. In some specific and unique cases, the flow of view count information creates a risk of delays, which the player tries to avoid. In an effort to avoid delays, the view count information might reach GA but is interrupted before it arrives in YTA.
    2. There are different ways in which we remove spam views from the two systems. GA spam filtering is generally stricter given those are views you are paying for.

Because of this, a discrepancy of 15-20% between the two reporting sources is considered within our normal range.(Using the formula |(YTA views - GA views)/YTA Views | * 100 to calculate the % Change (also known as discrepancy))

If you see a discrepancy above 15-20%, contact your Google Support representative (ideally with information showing you’ve confirmed all the above points first). In rare cases, our teams can pinpoint an actual direct source of the discrepancy and correct it, but if not, these are helpful examples for our engineering teams to use to make longer term improvements. While YouTube Analytics is a free of charge, value-add tool, we recognize its importance to advertisers and are working hard to align it’s reporting as closely as possible with Google Ads View reporting. For now, differences in view counts reported by these two systems are expected. However, be assured that the metrics reported in Google Ads are accurate.

Google Ads vs. Public Watch Page
The Public Watch Page is populated based on YTA data. To check why GA wouldn’t match PWP, you’d do the same checks you would do to confirm why you found differences in what’s reported between GA and YTA (listed in the Google Ads vs. YouTube Analytics section above).

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