Traffic sources report

Note: We updated the classifications for traffic sources and playback location to reflect mobile traffic and site changes in March and June 2014. See details in the list of changes to the traffic-source classification below and use this article to understand current classifications.

The Traffic sources report shows the sites and YouTube features that viewers use to find your content. You can use it to get insight into the many ways viewers find videos. For example, you can see if viewers are searching directly on YouTube, clicking "Suggested Videos" thumbnails, or following links from social networking websites like Twitter or Facebook.

See your Traffic sources report

Go directly to the Traffic sources report or follow the steps below.

  1. Log in to your YouTube account.
  2. In the top right, select your account > Creator Studio.
  3. In the left menu, click Analytics > Traffic sources.
Tip: You can also check your analytics with the Creator Studio app on your mobile device. Get started in the YouTube Creator Studio app Help Center.

How to use the Traffic sources report

Use these tips on desktop to get the most out of your report:

  • Set date range: You can change the number of days you want the report to show using the drop-down menu or calendar in the top-right of the report (for example, the last 7 days or the last 90 days).
  • Deep dive on videos: Use the "Search for content" box at the top of the report to choose videos from your channel.
  • View sources by location: Use the "Search for locations" box at the top of the report to view sources by location. Click for suggested regions and countries.
  • Deep dive on sources: For some videos, you can click traffic sources listed in the report to get detailed data. For example, if you click the "YouTube search" traffic source, you'll be able to see the search terms viewers use to find your video.
  • Filter sources: Check or uncheck the boxes next to sources (like "Google Search" or "Playlists") to include or remove them from your multi-line or stacked area chart. This lets you to compare only the traffic sources you care about.
  • Filter viewers: Change whether the report shows all data or only data from subscribers or non-subscribers to your channel by using the "Subscribed & not subscribed" drop-down menu at the top of the report.
Learn more about the Traffic sources report and how you can promote your videos in the places that drive the most watch time and engagement.

Understand your traffic sources

There are two main groups of traffic sources: watch time and views from sources within YouTube and from external sources. You can see both in the Traffic sources report, ordered by watch time by default.

Traffic from sources within YouTube

This is watch time and views on desktop, YouTube mobile apps, and other features within YouTube. Here are the top traffic sources within YouTube (click to expand a description):

YouTube search

Traffic from search results on YouTube. You can also see the search terms used by viewers if provided by the user's browser/player.

Suggested videos

Traffic from suggestions that appear next to or after other videos and from links in video descriptions.

Browse features

Traffic from the homepage/home screen, subscription feed, and other browsing features for both signed-in and signed-out users.


Traffic from any playlist that included one of your video (this can be your own playlist or another user's playlist). This traffic also includes users' "Liked videos" and "Favorite videos" playlists.

YouTube channels

Traffic from other creator and topic channels. Topic channels are automatically created based on YouTube's video discovery system (like the YouTube Music channel).

YouTube advertising

This traffic source shows ad playbacks that qualify as a view, based on these criteria:

  • Skippable ads that are longer than 10 seconds and watched for at least 30 seconds or until completion.
  • Non-skippable ads that are autoplaying never qualify as view in YouTube Analytics.
  • Other ads need to be clicked to play by the viewer in order to qualify as a view.
Video cards and annotations

Traffic coming from an annotation, card, or featured content in another video.


Traffic from automatic phone or tablet notifications and emails sent to your subscribers.

Other YouTube features

Traffic from within YouTube that doesn't fall in any other category, such as views from Partner promotions, the Android home screen widget, or the dashboard.


Traffic from sources outside of YouTube

This is watch time and views resulting from links outside of YouTube, such as Google search, Facebook, and other websites. Here are the top traffic sources for sources outside of YouTube (click to expand a description):

External sources

Traffic from websites and apps that have your YouTube video embedded or linked to. You can see what websites and apps are embedding your video in your Playback Locations Report.

Direct or unknown sources

Traffic from direct URL entry, bookmarks, and unidentified apps.

Changes to the traffic-source classification

June 2015 updates

Newly added traffic sources
  • External sources: All external traffic sources are now merged in the "External" category. This includes the former top-level sources External apps, Unknown – embedded player, and External website. External apps and embedding URLs are shown by name.
  • Notifications: New top-level source that includes both desktop and phone/tablet notifications for subscribers.
Renamed traffic sources
  • YouTube guide: Renamed to "Browse features." Now includes traffic from the YouTube Kids app. "Liked videos" and "Favorite videos" are included in Playlists. Subscription update email is now included in the new top-level source Notifications.
  • Unknown – direct: Renamed to "Direct or unknown."
  • YouTube – other features: Renamed to "Other YouTube features." Notification is now included in the top-level source "Notifications."
  • YouTube playlists: Renamed to "Playlists." Now includes "Liked videos" and "Favorite videos."
  • YouTube video card and annotations: Renamed to "Video cards and annotations."
Removed or subsumed traffic sources
  • External apps: Now included in the "External" category.
  • Unknown – embedded player: Now included in the "External" category.
Traffic sources moved to different categories
  • YouTube Guide > Recommended channels: Now included in "Other YouTube features."
  • YouTube Guide > Liked videos: Now included in "Playlists."
  • YouTube Guide > Favorite videos: Now included in "Playlists."
  • YouTube Guide > Subscription update email: Now included in "Notifications."
  • YouTube Guide > Recommended channels: Now included in "Other YouTube features."
  • YouTube – other feature > Notifications: Now included in "Notifications."

March 2014 updates

Traffic sources moved to different categories
  • Google Search: Included in "External" category. This category no longer provides search terms due to privacy reasons.
  • YouTube Guide > Homepage: This sub-category is now included in YouTube Guide > What to watch, which shows views from both the signed-in and signed-out homepage.
  • YouTube – Other features > Subscription feed: This sub-category is now included in YouTube guide > My subscriptions.
Other changes
  • Unknown – direct: Mobile views can be categorized better and are included in the respective top-level category. Therefore this category is showing less views.
  • Unknown subcategories: Views are classified as "unknown" if we don’t receive all details from certain browsers or players. An example is YouTube suggested video > Unknown. This means we can classify the top-level traffic source as suggested video traffic, but we cannot attribute the view to a specific video.

    As the classification improves, views in the respective unknown categories are decreasing and views for specific videos are increasing.

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