YouTube to base search rankings on time watched, not clicks

Posted by Emma Woollacott

YouTube has beefed up its Analytics function, saying the extra information whould help people make more popular videos.

Most notably, there's a move away from using the number of times a video's clicked as the measure of its popularity. Instead, a 'Time Watched' metric that shows how many minutes' watching its received.

The idea is to get rid of the tendency for creators to pick an exciting-looking but misleading thumbnail to drive traffic, instead highlighting those videos that actually get watched all the way through. The company made a similar change to its Suggested Videos feature this summer.

"Earlier this year we started focusing on the time users spend watching YouTube when we suggest videos," says YouTube product manager Ted Hamilton.

"To give you additional insight into engagement for your videos, we’ve enhanced the 'Views' report to show more time watched data. You can see 'Estimated minutes watched' from the 'Views' report or choose other data options from the 'Compare metric' drop-down menu."

One of the most used features to drive audience engagement, says YouTube, is annotations, and the company's now allowing users to access the beta version of Annotations Report to view data on the performance of video annotations, with insights on viewer click and close rates.

Date Slider's also been improved, to allow users to quickly adjust the date range and see how videos performed across different time periods. Data can be averaged across time with rolling seven- and 30-day totals, allowing weekend spikes to be smoothed out.