Tips for using impressions & CTR data

Keep in mind that these are only suggestions based on aggregate success rates across YouTube. They do not guarantee any particular outcome for your specific case.
What drives impressions?
When you upload a video, YouTube starts surfacing it to relevant audiences. Based on many factors, our systems figures out which viewers are most likely to watch your video. The system continues to surface the video to audiences as long as it remains on YouTube.
Why do I have fewer impressions than subscribers?
Keep in mind that notifications and traffic from external websites or end screens are not currently included in impressions data.
Not all views come from thumbnail impressions. In addition, an impression is not counted in every instance where a viewer sees a video thumbnail.
Learn what counts as a registered impression. You can also look at your traffic sources to fully understand where views and watch time are coming from.
How do I know whether my impressions click-through rate is high or low?
Impressions click-through rate measures how often viewers watched a video after seeing a registered impression on YouTube. Some views don’t count towards impressions, like views on external websites or from end screens. Because of this, your impressions CTR likely represents a subset of your channel’s total views.
Impressions click-through rate will vary based on the type of content, audience, and where on YouTube the impression was shown. Video thumbnails are always competing against other videos on the homepage, in “Up Next”, in search results, and more.

Half of all channels and videos on YouTube have an impressions CTR that can range between 2% and 10%.

New videos or channels (like those less than a week old), or videos with fewer than 100 views can see an even wider range. If a video gets a lot of impressions (such as if it appears on the Home Page), it's natural for the CTR to be lower. Videos where most of the impressions are from sources like your channel page may have a higher rate.

Ultimately, it's best to compare CTRs between videos over the long-term and keep in mind how their traffic sources will affect their CTRs.

Avoid trying to increase your CTR using thumbnails or titles that are clickbait. YouTube will recommend a video to viewers if the video is relevant to them and if the video's average view duration indicates that viewers find it interesting. Clickbait videos tend to have low average view duration and therefore are less likely to get recommended by YouTube. You can tell if your thumbnail is clickbait if it's getting high CTR but low average view duration and lower than expected Impressions. 

How can I interpret the data?

Looking at click-through rate alone is not recommended. To get an idea of how well your videos interest viewers, look at click-through rate in the context of other metrics. Some ways of looking at the data: 
  • Look at impressions click-through rate and your average view duration to get an idea of how long viewers are sticking around after clicking the video thumbnail.
    • Higher click-through rate with low average view duration: This may mean your thumbnails are "click-baity" or that your content doesn’t meet viewers’ expectations.
    • Lower click-through rate and high average view duration: This may mean that your thumbnails or titles aren't getting viewers to click. It can also mean that your video is being recommended to a wider audience than just your core followers. Less targeted viewers are less likely to click thumbnails, leading to a lower click-through rate. Look at your traffic sources for impressions data to see where impressions are happening.
  • Look at your traffic sources to understand where views and watch time are coming from. Traffic sources, like "YouTube search," typically have higher click-through rate than sources like "Home" because viewers have a greater intent to watch.

To interpret the data, keep an eye out for low or high numbers — that’s where your main learnings will be. As your content gets distributed more widely and impressions increase, viewers outside of your core audience are more likely to see your thumbnail, which may lead to a lower click-through rate.

Wondering whether your impressions click-through rate is high or low? Get tips to understand how your click-through rate relates to your channel's overall success

What should I avoid doing with my CTR data?

Here are some important points to avoid when using CTR data.

  • Making decisions without enough data. It’s important to analyze your CTR only after getting a substantial number of impressions. Avoid analyzing your CTR immediately after uploading.
  • Optimizing for small changes in CTR. It’s normal to have small variations in CTR, and isn’t cause for immediate action. Improvements might only be helpful if a change in CTR is statistically significant.
  • Testing several thumbnails or titles on the same video. It’s difficult to make sure each video is seen by the same audience. Differences in CTR might be due to traffic sources, rather than the title or thumbnail.
  • Using clickbait in your titles or thumbnails. Learn more about our clickbait policies.
How do I get an idea of my channel's "total reach"?
To get a full picture of what interests your viewers, use these tips to use impressions and click-through rate data together with other metrics:
  • Trends: Look for videos that have the lowest or highest impressions and click-through rate to see whether there are common themes across the topic or format. 
  • Views data: Look at impressions click-through rate and the average view duration to get an idea of how long viewers are sticking around after clicking your thumbnail. Visit "How do I know if my impressions click-through rate is high or low" section for more details.
  • Timeframes: Filter your search for the same timeframe when comparing impressions and click-through rate for videos. Try looking at the first day after upload, first 7 days, and the first 30 days to see trends over time.
  • Traffic sources: Look at your traffic sources to fully understand where views and watch time are coming from. Look at your traffic sources for impressions data to see where impressions are happening.
Why do I have more views than impressions?
You have more views than impressions if a large amount of traffic to your video comes from outside of youtube.com. Not every instance where a viewer sees a video thumbnail will count as an impression and not all views come from thumbnail impressions. Learn what counts as a registered impression.
Why doesn't the CTR metric match my calculations?
Click-through rate is based only on views that come from a logged impression according to the chart above. If you divide the number of total views on a video by the number of impressions you may not see the same number as the click-through rate that's displayed in YouTube Analytics, as some views do not originate from thumbnail impressions. 
How do I get more impressions or higher CTR?
Higher click-through rate alone isn’t a strong indicator of success. To get a full picture of what interests viewers on your channel or videos, use our tips on using impressions and click-through rate data. In general, the best way to get more impressions is to consistently make great quality content that viewers love.

Why are my impressions & CTR low?

If it seems like your impressions are lower than they should be, here are some things to keep in mind when looking at your impressions data:
  • Not every instance where a viewer sees a video thumbnail will count as an impression and that not all views come from thumbnail impressions. Learn what counts as a registered impression.
  • Older videos may have more impressions since they'll continue to be surfaced to audiences as long as they're on YouTube. To get a more defined view of how your videos are currently doing, look at the first 7 days after upload to compare impressions data for different videos. 
  • As your videos become more popular, they may be shown to a wider audience beyond your core viewers. This can result in a lower click-through rate (even if you see an increase in overall views and watch time).
  • Use the traffic sources report to see click-through rate by traffic source. This can give you an indication of how your thumbnails and titles are doing in converting impressions to views in different contexts.
Avoid trying to increase your CTR using thumbnails or titles that are clickbait. YouTube will recommend a video to viewers if the video is relevant to them and if the video's average view duration indicates that viewers find it interesting. Clickbait videos tend to have low average view duration and therefore are less likely to get recommended by YouTube. You can tell if your thumbnail is clickbait if it's getting high CTR but low average view duration and lower than expected Impressions. 
Wondering whether your impressions click-through rate is high or low? Get tips to understand how your click-through rate relates to your channel's overall success
How do impressions relate to monetization?
If a video is not suitable for a broad audience according to our Community Guidelines, it can limit the number of impressions the video gets. This could also lead to fewer views and, as a result, less revenue. In addition, if a video is not suitable for most advertisers according to the advertiser-friendly content guidelines, the video may get limited or no ads. 
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