How to Increase Average YouTube Watch Time and Why It Matters

Algorithms

Today, the average user spends about 30 minutes per visit watching YouTube videos. Assuming that users enter the platform once a day, this totals about 15 hours per month. It turns out that at least a half-day out of the month is spent in continuous viewing of YouTube videos. Per year, this means the average annual video viewing time is 1 week. No breaks. Impressive?

What would you agree to watch for 1 week of your life? We’re sure you would certainly not waste it on bad, low-quality, and useless content.

This idea is at the heart of one of YouTube’s most powerful algorithms. While the number of video views is paramount on many other resources, YouTube developers decided to shift the focus from quantity to quality. They suggest that the duration of watching a video is a sure sign that the viewer liked or disliked it.

Watch time analytics for your videos can be viewed in the YouTube Creator Studio separately for each video. The following analytical metrics depend on how long viewers watch each video:

  • Watch time (total video viewing time since its publication, expressed in hours, and calculated for the channel as a whole)
  • Average view duration (expressed in minutes and seconds and calculated for the channel as a whole)
  • Audience retention (shows what percentage of the duration of your video viewers watch on average, with the ability to see statistics for individual video fragments).

We discussed why these metrics are important and how they affect the promotion of your video by YouTube algorithms in this article. In addition, take into account that creators must have at least 4000 hours of watch time to enable monetization on the channel.

Let’s take a look at what you can do to increase watch time and average view duration and, as a result, audience retention for your videos.

Tips for increasing watch time, average video viewing time, and audience retention:

  1. Content quality. This has been said many times, but we will repeat it: if your video does not cover a specific topic, contains irrelevant information, is just beating around the bush, chaotic, and the quality of the picture and sound leaves much to be desired, then, unfortunately, no advice will help promote the video and channel using YouTube algorithms. Select relevant topics, work on the content of the video and structure it with scripts, be guided by the value of the final product for the viewer, and give the audience a quality picture and sound.
  2. Match the video title, video icons, and keywords to your content. The viewer needs to understand what content to expect when they open your video. In the first seconds, the assessment is made just based on the name of the video and its icon. You should not deceive viewers with clickbait titles and thumbnails or use incorrect keywords unless you want to be punished by YouTube algorithms.
  3. The first 15 seconds of viewing decide the fate of your video. You have to interest viewers and get them to keep watching in this short amount of time. Within 15 seconds, the audience should be able to answer these main questions: what is the value of this video, and what benefits will we get by continuing to watch?
  4. Give the viewer an incentive to watch to the end. People are curious creatures, especially when a video promises some kind of material benefit. One of the most common stimulating strategies is searching for “Easter eggs” in the video. You can invite viewers to further participate in a drawing of something special on the channel by announcing that the drawing rules will be at the end of the video. In this way, viewers watch the first part of the video carefully without rewinding, and the second half makes them watch to the end. Similar scenarios may apply, for example, with special promotions for viewers. However, incentives can also be intangible; you can use news, mysteries, and secrets that you promise to share at the end of the video for this purpose. The main thing is to maintain intrigue. If you manage to keep it up to the end of the video without letting the audience’s curiosity fade, it can greatly help your channel and video analytics. But you should not deceive the audience: if you promised something interesting at the end, do not forget to fulfill the promise.

Tips for Increasing Channel Watch Time

  1. Help the viewer have a seamless viewing experience. Create playlists of your related videos that flow seamlessly one after another. Doing this helps viewers get as much information as possible on the topic of interest. You also relieve them of having to choose because they will not have to look for something else to watch when your one video comes to an end. It makes sense to think in advance which videos to include in the playlist and try minimizing the inclusion of thumbnails, intros, and outros in them so that the presentation of the playlist is smoother and more meaningful. 
  2. Offer viewers links to your other content at the end of each video. You need to do this not in the last seconds, but at the moment when the viewer is ready to close your video and switch to another one (i.e., when the material is already coming to its logical conclusion and it’s going to the end screen). You can roughly figure out when that moment is by looking at the detailed audience retention statistics available for individual videos.
  3. Instead of links to other videos, offer links to playlists at the end of each video. If the content is interesting, it’s guaranteed that viewers will spend more time on your channel viewing the entire playlist.
  4. Don’t stretch the content of the video any longer than necessary. If the viewer doubles the speed of the video, the time that the viewer actually spent watching, and not, in fact, the duration of the video, gets into the analytics even if they watch it to the end. This also applies to average viewing time.

And finally, a general tip: follow the analytics of the channel and each video that you upload, and react to any changes in it. 

Analytics is not something to be afraid of but is a tool that will help you understand what your viewers like. And this understanding will help you ultimately increase your video watch time (and duration) to unprecedented heights.

And we will help you with this!

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