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About watch time data for video campaigns

Watch time reporting for video campaigns gives you insight into the amount of time people spend watching your video ads. It can help you better understand how people interact with your video ads, which videos people watch the longest, and how long your content is keeping people engaged -- even if they skip the ad. 

Watch time reporting is available for TrueView in-stream and bumper ads (and will be expanded to additional formats over time). You can see watch time data by adding the columns for these metrics to your account. You can find them under “Performance” when modifying the columns for a video campaign. Learn how to add or remove columns

Available watch time metrics include:

  • Watch time measures the total amount of time people spend watching your video ads over a given time period, reported in seconds.
  • Avg. watch time/impr. measures the average number of seconds someone watched your video ad per impression of the ad. 

How watch time is calculated

Each time someone starts watching your video ad, our system measures the time until the ad is completed, is skipped, or stops playing for any reason. This is the ad's watch time, in seconds. 

In a small percentage of cases, we may not be able to measure the watch time of an ad, such as when a browser crashes or a connection ends abruptly.  In these cases, we adjust the total time to account for any unmeasured time by applying the average watch time of impressions that were measured. Watch time totals are then reported in your account.

About watch time reports

To provide the most accurate results, watch time data is only reported once your ad reaches a minimum number of impressions that were measured for watch time. You may see “--” in your reports when not enough data is available yet. 

When using segments in reporting, the impression minimum is applied and the data is adjusted separately for each segment. Due to this, you may notice small differences when adding up rows, and data for some segments may not be available. For instance, if you segment your report by devices, the sum of device segments may differ slightly from the campaign total.  In another example, when a campaign contains two ads of very different lengths, watch time data for the total campaign may differ from the combined data from each ad.

Keep in mind: In campaigns with multiple video ad formats, impressions and watch time data from supported formats only (TrueView in-stream and bumper ads) are used to calculate these metrics. So in campaign-level reports, watch-time data for these formats only is reported.

How to use it

Watch time provides a simple way to understand how long your video ads are being watched by potential customers and which videos keep their attention longer, even if the ad is skipped. This gives you additional insight into how people engage with your ads, beyond impressions and views.

For example, someone may decide to skip an in-stream ad after watching for 20 seconds, which (if they didn’t click on any part of the ad) won’t be counted as a view. You can evaluate and compare the watch time of different ads, regardless of skips or views.

Some more ways to use these metrics include:

  • Compare two similar video campaigns or ad groups with different video ads to see which ad earns more watch time. This can help you understand what kind of video content is resonating with your audience.
  • Try using the same ad creative in different campaign configurations to see which campaign better targets an audience that provides more average watch time per impression.
  • Watch time gives you an idea of how many seconds of your ad creative is seen, on average. This can guide you when you’re creating new videos, and help inform the structure of your video ad creative.

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