Audience Retention: Calculation and Simple Strategies for Optimization

What is Audience Retention?

Ever click on a YouTube video, get five seconds in, and lose interest?

Same. It’s hard to keep watching a video when you click on it expecting fast and good entertainment and instead get a five minute unnecessary introduction in a boring, monotonous tone. The unspoken agreement of watching a video on demand is that you are getting the entertainment you want… on demand. 

The number of people who stay watching your video (or don’t) is measured with something called an “audience retention rate”. Audience retention rate is the percentage number utilized to rank your website for SEO on platforms like YouTube.

Audience retention is a percentage representing the amount of time people spend consuming your video. An audience retention rate of 65% means that on average, viewers watch 65% of your video.

How is Audience Retention Calculated?

When measuring a video’s audience retention, YouTube splits its data into two different metrics: absolute audience retention and relative audience retention. Both absolute audience retention and relative audience retention are displayed in a graphical format, with an absolute audience retention curve showing how well a video retains viewers, and the relative audience retention curve showing how well a video retains viewers compared to other videos of similar length. Relative audience retention curves are helpful when trying to understand how your videos measure up against others of its caliber, whereas absolute audience retention gives an idea of how your videos are performing in a vacuum.

There are four main types of moments that are important in garnering a deeper understanding of and properly utilizing the valuable information that encompasses audience retention rate.

  1. An “intro” statistic tells you what percentage of users continued watching your video after the first 30 seconds.
  2. A “top moment” is a period of time when almost no one stopped watching your video.
  3. A “spike” is a moment in your video that was re-watched or shared frequently.
  4. A “dip” is a moment in your video that was either skipped or caused viewers to hop off your page.

Think of your intro as an attention-grabbing hurdle you have to jump over. Top moments and spikes are like level-ups, while dips are viewer-reducing quicksand to avoid at all costs.

What’s a Good Audience Retention Rate on YouTube?

This question is almost completely one of personal preference and varies on a case-by-case basis. The average YouTube viewer retention rate is right around 50-60%, and you would think that the ultimate goal would be a viewer retention rate of 100%. But a recent study actually found that videos with higher click throught rates (CTR) get more views. So there seems to be a difference when it comes to CTR versus viewer retention and how many people end up watching a video.

Whether you are killing the game and have millions of viewers, or need a little help drumming up ideas to improve your audience retention rates, learning about strategies to bolster your viewership can only help take you farther in your career as a content creator.

How to Increase Audience Retention on YouTube

Hook Your Audience With Your Content:

What is your audience expecting when they click on your video? First and foremost, they want to have their interest piqued. The first step is getting them on your page and watching your content in the first place, but the second task is much harder: getting them past that first 30 seconds. Audience retention is all about serving content that interests your audience from the beginning all the way through the end.

Your user wants a video that is entertaining as soon as it starts, so consider packing as much interest into the initial 30 seconds as possible. Most importantly, drop mentions (but not reveals) of exciting things they will see or experience if they keep watching the video. This will cause them to put stake in watching the rest of your video to find out what it was that you promised them in the beginning.

Throw Out the Clickbait Thumbnails:

As we stated above, the key to audience retention is to ensure your video matches their expectations. Although it’s important to promise things to viewers at the beginning of their encounter with your video, it is equally as important to deliver on those promises. This study shows that users dislike being misled by video thumbnails that promise them a viewing experience that they ultimately do not receive. Name your video something intriguing, but don’t say it shows things it does not contain.

Ain’t No Mountain High Enough:

But there are valleys that are way too low: the final tip is to pay close attention to the spikes and the dips in your viewership. These are key insights that are absolutely crucial to pumping out content that better fits the way people want to view your content. There is nothing more informative than raw data, so why not use it? 

Analyze the parts of your video that people really like, and those that are causing them to jump from the page. What, if any, are the similarities between them? These metrics will tell you what is working in your content, and what is not. Use that to your advantage when implementing new strategies for improved audience retention!

Want to learn more about how to improve your content-creating abilities? Check out these three tips for developing video editing techniques for optimal content production!

Why Does Audience Retention Matter? Audience Retention as an SEO Ranking Factor

YouTube not only tracks your videos’ audience retention rates; it utilizes them to consider your video for first-page ranking when a user searches for a video. That means your audience retention rate could be significantly impacting people’s access to your content in the first place, seeing as YouTube only shows results as far as the second page.

Unfortunately when it comes to YouTube, if you ain’t first, you’re last.

Is There an Alternative to Being a Slave to Algorithms?

Endavo is a unique OTT website builder specifically geared towards those looking for content-hosting domains that give the creator complete control over their videos. We don’t do algorithmic games or pit your content up against other creators. We build you an independent, white-labeled video hosting platform that you can monetize and personalize in any way you want. With Endavo, audience retention becomes just another factor you analyze to see how your content is performing, not a number you obsess over to rank higher than your competition.

We offer a free month-long trial for creators interested in complete ownership of their content and how it’s displayed. Sign up here today!