Tips for using impressions and 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?
As soon as you have uploaded a video, YouTube starts surfacing it to relevant audiences. Based on hundreds of signals, our systems determine which viewers are most likely to watch your video and continue 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. It's important to understand that not every instance in which 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. You can also look at your traffic sources to fully understand where views and watch time are coming from.
How do I know if 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. It is likely that this represents a subset of your channel's total views, as not all impressions are counted in this metric, such those on external websites or end screens.
Impressions click-through rate will vary based on the type of content, audience and where on YouTube the impression was shown. Keep in mind that your video thumbnails are always competing against other videos, whether on the homepage, 'Up Next' on the watch page, in search results and even in subscription feeds.

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

However, new videos or channels (such as those that are 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 gets promoted on the homepage or Watch Next), it's natural for the CTR to be lower than for videos where most of the impressions are from sources like your channel page.

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 by using thumbnails or titles that are clickbait. YouTube will recommend a video to viewers if the video is relevant to the viewer and if other viewers find the video interesting, as reflected by the video's average view duration. 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 is 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 attract and engage viewers, look at click-through rate in the context of other metrics for your channel or video. Some ways of looking at the data include the following: 
  • Look at impressions click-through rate and your average view duration to get an idea of how long viewers are sticking around after clicking on an impression.
    • Higher click-through rate with low average view duration: This may mean that 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. However, it may also suggest that your content is being recommended to a wide audience beyond your core followers (less targeted viewers are less likely to click on thumbnails, leading to a lower click-through rate). Take a look at your traffic sources for impressions data to see where impressions are occurring.
  • Look at your traffic sources to understand where views and watch time are coming from. Traffic sources such as 'YouTube search' typically have a higher click-through rate than sources such as 'Home', because they're places where viewers have a greater intent to watch.

To interpret the data, keep an eye out for particularly low or high numbers – that's where your main insights will be. In general, as your content is distributed more widely and impressions increase, the potential audience is likely to be outside your core audience and, therefore, less targeted, which may lead to a lower click-through rate. This is normal.

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 things to avoid when using CTR data.

  • Making decisions without enough data. It's important to analyse your CTR only after receiving a substantial number of impressions. Avoid analysing your CTR immediately after uploading.
  • Optimising for small changes in CTR. It's normal to have small variations in CTR, and it isn't cause for immediate action. Improvements might only be helpful if a change in CTR is statistically significant.
  • Testing multiple thumbnails or titles on the same video. It's difficult to make sure that 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 can I get an idea of my channel's 'total reach'?
To get a full picture of what attracts and engages viewers on your channel or videos, follow 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 if 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 on an impression. See the '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 uploading, the 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. Take a look at your traffic sources for impressions data to see where impressions are occurring.
Why do I have more views than impressions?
It's possible to see that you have more views than impressions if your traffic is coming mostly from outside of youtube.com, or viewed in a background tab. It's important to understand that not every instance in which 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.
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. This means that 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 can 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 attracts and engages viewers on your channel or videos, follow 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 and CTR really 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 in which 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.
  • Older videos may have more impressions, as 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 uploading 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 by using thumbnails or titles that are clickbait. YouTube will recommend a video to viewers if the video is relevant to the viewer and if other viewers find the video interesting, as reflected by the video's average view duration. 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 is 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 monetisation?
If a video is not suitable for a broad audience according to our Community Guidelines, it can limit the amount of impressions that the video receives. This could also lead to fewer views and, as a result, lower revenue. In addition, if a video is not suitable for most advertisers according to the advertiser-friendly content guidelines, the video may receive limited or no ads. 
Make sure that your content follows the advertiser-friendly content guidelines and YouTube Community Guidelines, and keep in mind that you can appeal videos marked 'Not suitable for most advertisers'.
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