Understanding YouTube Impressions and Click Through Data

Understanding your analytics on YouTube plays a vital part in ensuring the growth of your channel. And while knowledge is power, conquering the popular video platform can seem like quite the difficult task if you’re not sure what those analytics actually mean.

Your “impressions” on YouTube simply shows how many times your video thumbnail was seen by a potential viewer. Your “click through rate” measures how many times your thumbnail resulted in someone actually clicking on your video. 

Your impressions data serves to paint the picture of how well your content performs within the YouTube algorithm. It essentially tells you how many people your video appeared in front of. Your click through rate illustrates the number of those people who saw your thumbnail and decided to actually watch your video.  

It’s important to note that your impressions and click through rates only measure registered impressions that came from YouTube. Not all of your views count towards your impressions. Any views that came from external websites or end screens are not a part of this analytic. As a result, your click through rate analytics will only represent a subset of your channel’s total views.


Understanding Your Impressions and CTR 

YouTube viewership is driven by deliberate choices. It’s important to recognize that many YouTube views are heavily influenced by the ‘Recommended Videos’ section. It’s common knowledge that a significant portion of viewers will not watch a video until the very end. Instead, they lose interest, and click on one of their recommended videos (especially those with appealing thumbnails and titles). That click is what shows the power of impressions data. 


YouTube has reported that half of all channels on their platform have an impressions CTR that ranges between 2-10%. However, new videos or smaller channels can see a much wider range. If a video gets a lot of impressions, it’s natural for the click through rate to be lower. However, videos that see a smaller number of impressions, especially those that come from your channel page, will often have a higher click through rate. 

Because impressions analytics can be so circumstantial, it’s best to compare CTRs between videos over the long-term while keeping in mind how their impressions and overall traffic has affected their CTRs. 

How to Increase Your Impressions and CTR

The ability to create great content is only a small piece of the puzzle if you’re looking to find success on YouTube. If you can’t make people want to watch your videos, your channel won’t gain any traction. The most successful YouTubers are ones that have become experts on enticing viewers to click on their videos in the first place.

Traditionally, determining whether or not content was clickworthy depended on how a certain video was performing compared to your average number of views. However, these analytics are simply incomplete. If you want to fully understand how your video is performing, it’s important to recognize that your video could have been listed as a ‘Recommended Video’ to another popular video, it could have been posted on a popular website, or it may have shown as the top result for a specific search term. 

Your impressions data provides more transparency when it comes to looking at your viewership as a whole. It’s a valuable metric to consider when determining whether or not your video is resonating with your potential audience. If potential viewers see the title and thumbnail of your video (illustrated by the number of impressions), and choose to click on your video (illustrated by your click through rate), you’ll know that your video is successful. 

However, it’s important to note that you shouldn’t be looking at your click through rate alone. Using your impressions data alongside your other analytics will help you to understand your audience better. To get the best idea of how your videos are performing, look at your click through rate in the context of your other analytics:

  • Compare your CTR to the average view duration to determine how long your viewers are watching your videos after being enticed to click on them
    • A high CTR with a low view duration may mean that your content isn’t meeting your viewers expectations
    • A low CTR with a high view duration may mean that your thumbnails aren’t enticing your viewers to click on your video, despite your content being really engaging. 
  • Look at your traffic sources to understand where the majority of your views are coming from. Remember that your impressions numbers only come from YouTube. 


Understanding your analytics on YouTube is a key aspect of finding success on the video platform. YouTube provides it’s creators with a number of tools to understand how to best market their channel- it’s up to you to learn how to best take advantage of them! 

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