When measuring the success of video marketing efforts on YouTube, many marketers will use metrics like views to understand their video content performance. But what’s considered a “view” on YouTube? Better yet, how does YouTube count views? Let’s take a closer look.
- What Counts as a View on YouTube?
- Does YouTube Count Repeat Views?
- Can View Bots Increase YouTube Video Views?
- Why Do Video View Totals Appear Stuck?
- Why Is YouTube Strict with View Counts?
- How Are Paid Video Ads Counted?
- Why Do YouTube Views Look Different in Analytics?
- Can You See Who Views Your YouTube Video?
What Counts as a View on YouTube?
Because YouTube wants to be sure that its videos are watched by actual humans and not a bot trying to skew the view count, a video view system has been put in place to separate legitimate views from the rest.
YouTube counts views for Long-Form, Short-Form, Shorts, and Live Stream videos when the following criteria have been met:
- A user has physically clicked the play button to begin the video.
- The video has played for at least 30 non-consecutive seconds.
What does this mean for marketers? Regardless of how long a video is, a view is a good indication that the provided video content was engaging and worth watching. If certain videos are getting a higher number of views compared to others, this can be a guide for what kind of video content to create down the road.
Does YouTube Count Repeat Views?
Yes, repeat views on YouTube can count toward total views. While not every repeat view will be counted to an overall view total, YouTube understands that its users might see a video and want to watch it multiple times or show it to people within their social circles, so multiple views can happen from one device or account and trigger new views that will be added to the total.
After a certain point—some believe around 4 or 5 views—YouTube will stop counting repeated video views from that device or account within 24 hours. If the same user watches the video again outside the 24-hour window, the view will be counted again.
Can View Bots Increase YouTube Video Views?
When a person watches a number of videos in a row—whether they’re working through a specific series, channel, or topic—it’s usually done in a very logical sequence.
View bots, however, are more likely to jump from video to video and stop watching a video at exactly 30 seconds. So if a group of videos that aren’t created by the same user or recommended in the search bar are watched like this, the view will not count.
Additionally, if a user leaves a spam comment that purposely directs other viewers to a site off YouTube, or they leave repeated, identical comments in the video’s comment section, YouTube will not count video views.
Why Do Video View Totals Appear Stuck?
One thing you may notice when looking at YouTube view counts after posting a new video is that the view counter can seem stuck at 301 views for a period of time. When this happens, don’t worry. YouTube puts a hold on videos that get more than 301+ views because it takes their system some time to process legitimate viewing data.
The reason the platform does this with anything over 301 views is because this is the threshold for being able to monetize a video and show up on the YouTube homepage or in trending searches.
If your video was just posted within the past few hours, it’s likely YouTube’s system is still filtering views to determine which are legitimate and which are coming from bots. After this process is finished, the view count should update more frequently and give you a more accurate representation of your views.
Why Is YouTube Strict with View Counts?
When videos pass that 301 view count, they’re able to be monetized. If a channel attempts spam workarounds like view bots, auto-playing embedded videos, and falsified repeated views to increase their earnings, then the channel isn’t abiding by YouTube’s standards. Creators manipulating view count information risk getting their video removed from the YouTube, losing monetization privileges, and even getting their account suspended.
In addition to the monetization issue, YouTube’s algorithm will push and promote videos that are doing well with views to their homepage or users’ suggested videos. If those view counts are skewed, YouTube’s home feed would be flooded with videos inaccurate for the intended audience—and could bog down the entire system as it tries to rectify the problem.
How Are Paid Video Ads Counted?
When utilizing YouTube’s TrueView in-stream video ad system—which can display a video on both YouTube and throughout the Google Display Network—view counts work roughly the same as organic views.
For a skippable ad, YouTube will count a view when the user:
- Watches a complete video ad that’s 11-30 seconds long.
- Watches 30 seconds of an ad that’s longer than 30 seconds.
- Interacts with the ad.
For an in-feed video ad, YouTube will count a view when the user:
- Clicks the ad and the video starts to play.
Why Do YouTube Views Look Different in Analytics?
View counts can vary between the video view page, search page, and your analytics, which means you could be seeing several different numbers. Thankfully, there’s a clear explanation of why these view counts look different.
With YouTube Analytics, brands can monitor video views more closely through the Realtime Activity metric. This number is different from the video watch page and search page because it shows the estimate of potential view activity based on your video’s history.
So even though the number may be slightly different from what you can see on the video watch page, it’s not an overestimation intended to inflate numbers. Rather, it’s a way to help brands better understand if their video will see continued success or if views are beginning to level out.
Can You See Who Views Your YouTube Video?
While you cannot see exactly who watches your videos, you can learn about your audience by visiting your YouTube Creator Studio and following these steps:
- Navigate to the Analytics tab. This tab gives you general data on your videos, as well as information on your YouTube channel’s overall performance and its top-performing content.
- Explore data in the Audience tab. Here, you can gain insights about your audience—like frequent times of engagement or the number of returning and new viewers and subscribers—and demographic information like location, age, gender, and language.