Video excellence - Made With Purpose

YouTube has a great analytics feature, that allows video creators to analyse YouTube video retention rates for each of their videos.


You can learn a lot about a video from looking at the retention data generated by YouTube.


We recently changed our YouTube trailer and in this article I am going to use the ‘before’ and ‘after’ trailer videos as a case study to demonstrate the usefulness of the audience retention feature as an analytical tool.


This tool can help you to understand:

  1. The exact events/parts of your video that people like
  2. The specific events/parts of your video that turn people off.

Effectively; this tool will help you make better videos – use it for every video that you make!


You can find this report in the Analytics section of your YouTube account as shown in the screenshot below:


YouTube video retention report

‘Before’ trailer YouTube video retention



Length: 2 minutes 58 seconds


Our first trailer was relatively long and you can see from the graph below that the average view duration was just under one minute, which equates to 32.1% of the entire video. This means that our audience are missing a whole two minutes of the message that we have crafted for them.


Image-1-Youtube retention-analysis


Significant drop off points


00:10-00:15 – Here the YouTube video retention rate drops by about 20%. This is unsurprising. The experts do say that if you don’t have audience attention within the first 10 seconds of a video, you will lose them. At this point in the video, we have failed to grab attention and spark the interest that is needed for all viewers to want to continue watching.


00:51-00:60 – This 20% dip is preceded by a fair amount of text for the audience to read. If we wanted to be kind we could say that the audience had already got what they needed from the video. The truth is more likely that they had become disengaged through boredom with the content.


Image-2-Youtube retention-analysis


This graph shows the retention rate of this video compared to all other videos on YouTube that are of a similar length.


Significantly, this video performs at a below average rate in the first quarter. It does perform better at approximately 02:05 but then sinks to below average again, almost immediately after.


One word of caution here is that the average is not split by type of video so a business sales video is of course less likely to retain a viewer than a video that a person has selected t watch for pure enjoyment purposes.


‘After’ trailer YouTube video retention


Length: 1 minute 16 seconds


We attempted to improve upon the results of our first trailer with this new video. You will see straight away that we have cut the length by more than half. We knew that we needed to produce something shorter, snappier and more engaging.


From the graph below you can see that average view duration is 44 seconds, which equates to 58.8% of the whole video. This is a massive improvement on the first video, which only reached 32.1%. As always, there is always room for improvement…


Image-3-Youtube retention-analysis


Significant drop off points


00:38 –At this point retention drops by 11%. This could be related to the use of jargon or the sense of repetition.


00:56 – Luckily, this represents the actual conclusion of the video and so it reflects less severely on the quality of the content.


Image-4-Youtube retention-analysis


Despite the relative improvement when compared to our own previous video, this trailer doesn’t score too highly when compared to other YouTube videos of a similar length. Retention appears to be below average for from 00:20 – 01:11. On a positive note, performance in the first 15 seconds is very strong, as is our message throughout this period. This leads us to conclude that viewers will be leaving the video having learned something about what we do at MWP.


Our biggest lesson from using this tool is that there are lessons to be learned! By looking at the data and taking action based on that learning, you really can improve the results that your videos generate.


Another key point is that there is commonality in user behaviour; us humans are not all different in our behaviour. If we all behaved differently there would be no patterns or sharp drop off points in videos when analysing YouTube video retention.


You therefore can plan and create a successful video using this data!


When videos start reaching thousands of views, clear patterns in viewer behavior begin to emerge. The YouTube video retention feature is essential for video creators who aim to get better and better over time. You can learn about your audience and about how your videos compare to the millions of other videos on YouTube that are also fighting for audience attention.