I have been posting videos up to YouTube now since October of 2011. For me it’s a fun hobby, and I enjoy the community atmosphere surrounding YouTube. However as a digital analyst, YouTube Analytics drives me up a wall sometimes. It provides some basic data, but every time I want to do a deeper dive into the data, I’m always blocked by it’s limitations.
The first area of frustration comes from the fact that much of the data is only the “Top 10” of a given metric, such as “Top 10 Videos,” “Top 10 Countres,” etc. However I am often interested in the “long tail” as well as the top metrics, and YouTube does not allow the option of seeing the “long tail” data.
The next thing that frustrates me is that I can’t do a deeper dive into the data. Let’s take, for example, the traffic sources data. YouTube Analytics does give a nice overview of the traffic source categories, and you can drill down into many of the individual categories to get a further breakdown of that data.
However, once you drill to the next level, that’s about as far as it goes. For example, with the external web sites drill down, it will tell you the top-level domains that are driving traffic, but there is no drill down into specific URLs. This is most disappointing because then it can be difficult (and sometimes impossible), to get a clearer understanding of what exactly is driving traffic to my videos. If I were running a campaign (and knew exactly where the traffic was coming from), it may not matter quite so much, but if it’s from a random web site (like 4Chan), I would want to know the exact URL that’s driving traffic so I could take a closer look at what was shared, why it was driving traffic, and perhaps replicate that success in some way.
Finally, the last thing that frustrates me is that there is no way to run any sort of correlation in YouTube Analytics. There are a couple of reports that show some relational data, but it’s severely lacking. In order for me to determine which video was driving the spike in traffic I saw from 4Chan, I had to narrow down the data to that specific day, and then look and see which were the top videos that day. Then I can look at the specific stats for that video, on that day, and get confirmation that the traffic spike from that site was hitting that specific video (most of the time this works, but if a site is driving traffic to my channel, and not at a specific video, this won’t work).
I honestly wish that Google would tie YouTube into Google Analytics so we could get more detailed data and analysis. Trying to market YouTube videos isn’t easy with such limited data, in my opinion. I know that some tools, like Adobe SiteCatalyst, offer some custom tracking solutions for YouTube, but such solutions are prohibitively expensive for the average YouTuber, and I’m not sure how much more insights such tools really can provide.
So at the end of the day, while YouTube Analytics does provide some insights into a channel’s video performance, I honestly feel it’s wholly inadequate.