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YouTube Opinion My Subscribers Hate My Videos... And That's OK?

Stanley | Team TB

Amazingly Decent and Not-At-All Terrible Fishing
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I have an interesting metric that I came across years ago and have used it to bolster my self esteem whenever I post a video that is not performing the way that I would like. I didn't put much stock in it as being a 'real' thing worth talking about, but over the years I have come to realize that this is an actual prediction of my videos future... as well as a measurement of how much my subscribers may not be enjoying my content.

When you post a video YouTube first sends it to those who have signed up for notifications. This of course is pending the number of other notifications they have already received and whether they have changed their settings to limit the number of notifications that they get (which is why so many creators like to cry about how YouTube doesn't send out their notifications... but that's a conversation for a different day). After this they begin serving your content out to various circles of viewers who have watch habits that favor the type of content this video appears to be. Let's take a look at the viewer retention graph for a recent video I that I published:

1661343826936.png

A modest 4:57 watch time which reflects an Average View Duration of 37.5%. For the record the average retention rate for a video of this length is ~40% and the top-10% of videos this long on YouTube have a retention rate of about 57%. So for this video I am not performing as well as I would like. But here's the thing... let's take a look at the Impressions And How They Led To Watch Time funnel under the Reach tab of this same video:
1661344206421.png

You'll notice that I am actually reflecting an average view duration of 5:33 (which is a retention rate of 41.5%). Why is this different and what does that difference mean? For starters there is a delay in data between these two. You'll notice that the prior graph takes about 48 hours to populate while the latter will populate far sooner. Take that as you will but also recognize that the data between these two takes far longer than a couple of days to even out. That's because the first retention graph includes your viewers from traffic sources that this graph does not. External traffic sources like posting your video on social media or internet forums do not reflect on the Funnel; this graph represents only the retention for viewers that YouTube shared this video to. So... kudos to YouTube; they actually put my video in front of people who spent more time enjoying it than the people I put it in front of. You know; the people who I shared it to on social media, Discord and internet forums. My Subscribers, my friends and colleagues... my 'followers.'

I am going to assume that you have stopped reading and are currently going through your library to see how bad your 'followers' (I really hate that term) are screwing up your retention, right? Well don't start screaming into the void yet. There is some good news here. YouTube recognizes that there is going to be a different retention rate for different traffic sources. They know that viewers who are watching your videos on television are watching your video 33% longer than those who are watching it on mobile. They know that competing social media platforms are going to squash your non-native video links and that the viewers there are likely to watch far less of your video than they would if they were watching it through YouTube itself... and they also know that you just provided an open source for viewers to leave another platform and come to YouTube. So guess what happens at this point?

Ok... this is not always the case but I am willing to bet that since this video has an AVD which surpasses the average 13 minute YouTube video I can expect the following things to happen:

A) It Will Rank In Search. This is further supported by my research prior to publishing. The videos which currently rank are not very well optimized, their thumbnails are not very good and the majority of them are around the 6 minute mark. Having watched a few I can easily say that they are not the same quality as my video. These videos are going to have a difficult time competing with the performance that I have come to expect from my content.

B) It Will Improve Over Time. So yes, it was my subscribers who let me down. You know what they did though right? They jumped on that video immediately. They didn't care that they were driving home from work or cooking dinner with the kids screaming about the cat jumping out the window. They stopped what they were doing to hit play as soon as they got the notification. Even if it wasn't a good time and they weren't able to watch as long as they may have at a more convenient time they felt the need to be supportive. I think that's more important than whatever retention metric we are looking at.

C) It Will Get +10,000 Views. Looking back at my library and seeing which videos have hit the 10k mark I have identified some common traits. The majority of these videos have a retention rate that is +40% and a CTR that is +5%. I will need to keep an eye on that CTR; if this video fails it will be because of the thumbnail. But that retention rate is good enough for it to hold it's own against the other videos that rank for the same search terms and that is a good weathervane for other traffic sources as well.

The retention rate is going to improve over time. Right now my subscribers are still slipping in and watching, and they are also swiping through and watching their other favorite creators. But YouTube is going to keep showing it out to more viewers who are going to enjoy it longer than my subscribers. Over the course of a couple of months the AVD will climb and as it does YouTube will share it out to bigger circles and I am betting that at the beginning of next summer this video is going to pop. It wouldn't be the first time:
1661346409564.png

These are three examples (out of dozens) of similar videos with similar AVD's and CTR's. Not one of them hit before the 120 day mark. But every single one of them was underperforming when I first published them. Every single one had a lower AVD than represented in the Impression Funnel and eventually the number from that graph became the norm and in several cases the AVD surpassed even that number. As with several of YouTube's quirky analytics when I see a difference between these two AVD's I get a little excited about that. The AVD for my subscribers just doesn't really change that often. They are always going to be watching my content while making dinner and listening to the kids scream about the cat jumping out the window. But when a video goes out and YouTube is able to put it in front of a new demographic that is really setting the pace for retention? You never know just how quickly things can turn and you never know just how high that mountain goes.
 

Damon

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Yeah, I've always wondered why it takes a year or two for my videos to pop. All a sudden a video you did two years ago starts getting lots of comments. Then you check out the analytics, and it has amassed 30k views or something. You sit there wondering when did that happen? That's one real reason I don't look at the top 10 thing. It's only give an picture of the first few hours of the video when it usually takes a year or two for my videos to pop.
 

MattCommand1

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Hi Stanley,

Your post is quite timely. Now that I am armed with much more data via the Monetization tab, I've been able to see a lot more than I used to. I've always been a bit of an experimenter even if it costs me views in the short term.

I've noticed that when I am breaking new content ground, my existing subscribers are not big fans. And I am noticing what you said. They sample it, then quit prematurely (not unexpected) and I get crappy opening results. I rarely ever get fireworks.

Although I would like browse traffic, sometimes Search traffic is more reliable over the longer-term. So many of my videos are losers starting out that I am shocked if any of my video ever gets fireworks. But because I know that some topics are niche and may not be immediately relevant, I take it all in stride.

As you pointed out, you don't really see the true results until months out when certain videos wake up for no reason and do better. This goes to Damon's observations that having a deep library matters and I have adopted that.

If and when the video is ready, I don't wait a week to release. I will release it within a day or two at most. The reason being is that I don't think it really matters when you release it if you play the long-term. YT has said this that the time you release doesn't matter in the long-term. Of course, I like to see fireworks now and again but the way I see it, the sooner my video gets released, the sooner my video gets processed and indexed by Google & YouTube.

In the beginning, getting the subscribers is important to get monetized. But once monetized, I am seeing that getting videos clicked and watched is more important to focusing on subscribers. I used to ask for the subscribe more but I am changing that. Graham Stephan goes for the LIKE and I have begun the emphasis to do that. YT will do a recommend of your video even if they are NOT a subscriber and I like that very much!

Of course, I would like to increase subscribers but there is no question that quality views matter to me a lot more. The more views, the wider the audience, and monetization goes up. I am also mindful of what kind of viewer I want. Ideally, I prefer viewers that are 40+ but I do get a fair amount of people under 40 due to some unusual outlier videos.

Ali Abdaal has said that he gets a younger crowd and says they tend to be broke and don't/can't buy stuff. So content that intentionally or unintentionally tap into the high school or college crowd will probably have crappy CTRs. Having broke viewers is not ideal subscriber or viewer base from a monetization point of view unless you get LOTS AND LOTS of them.

Aside from that, there is the issue of relatability. It is futile for me to attempt to "relate" to the Z demographic. Older millennials and up are more closer and relatable to me.

I can corroborate that topics that are deeply finance/financial vs. a generic topic command far higher CTR's. I am seeing that some of my videos that perform just as well or even better monetarily than more "popular" videos. There is a certain amount of truth that there are "riches in the niches". The cool thing is there is also less competition in the niches and you are more likely to stand out as a creator in certain circles.

As I said, Stanley, your post is quite timely for me. Thank you! It helps reinforces certain decisions I have made.

Everything I am saying is not advice for anyone. Just my outlook and observations.
 
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MediaMan

Very Well-Known Member
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There is a certain amount of truth that there are "riches in the niches". The cool thing is there is also less competition in the niches and you are more likely to stand out as a creator in certain circles.
I tend to agree with this. I would also guess the smaller the niche the more accurate the demographic target resulting in like you said, better monetization opportunities. Perhaps affiliate marketing would be a good choice as well in this case.
 

Damon

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www.blackwarriorlures.com
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Ali Abdaal has said that he gets a younger crowd and says they tend to be broke and don't/can't buy stuff. So content that intentionally or unintentionally tap into the high school or college crowd will probably have crappy CTRs. Having broke viewers is not ideal subscriber or viewer base from a monetization point of view unless you get LOTS AND LOTS of them.
That's one thing I have recently learned about the outdoor industry in general. They tend to be older, they tend to have money, and they intend to spend money on outdoor gear if it's worth their time and money. Sold two boats this summer that I wasn't using. Guys showed up with cold cash money. Every time I've sold old camera gear, cold cash money.

This is one reason why my tutorials and product reviews generate so many views: People are looking for products and methods worth their time and money. If that's the basis of their viewership, you can build a business.
 
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Stanley | Team TB

Stanley | Team TB

Amazingly Decent and Not-At-All Terrible Fishing
Administrator
TubeBuddy Staff
2,603
25
Subscriber Goal
250000
That's one thing I have recently learned about the outdoor industry in general. They tend to be older, they tend to have money, and they intend to spend they money on outdoor gear if it's worth their time and money. Sold two boats this summer that I wasn't using. Guys showed up with cold cash money. Every time I've sold old camera gear, cold cash money.

This is one reason why my tutorials and product reviews generate so many views: People are looking for products and methods worth their time and money. If that's the basis of their viewership, you can build a business.
This is some solid, absolutely-invaluable insight. New creators take heed!
 

MattCommand1

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That's one thing I have recently learned about the outdoor industry in general. They tend to be older, they tend to have money, and they intend to spend they money on outdoor gear if it's worth their time and money. Sold two boats this summer that I wasn't using. Guys showed up with cold cash money. Every time I've sold old camera gear, cold cash money.

This is one reason why my tutorials and product reviews generate so many views: People are looking for products and methods worth their time and money. If that's the basis of their viewership, you can build a business.
That is awesome! The type of audience matters. I notice that you spotlight and use different products, gear, supplies, etc. None of that stuff is free. The viewer can't be broke to use all the goodies you have. Even a non-outdoors person like myself can see that you need "stuff". You always have stuff and gear in your videos. Quite clever and you never do the hard sell. You make it look natural and smooth. You comment and educate.

I think people who are attracted to documentary style are probably more mature, thoughtful, and have some savings/financial stability vs. young broke kid looking for the next cool thing.

I think it is bizarre how people are so desperate for views they don't care where they come from. As has been said by many, views represent real people. Are we working on attract the right people for our audience?

A lot has been reported about CPM rates. I've heard that some niches only get $2 to $3 CPM. I am fortunate that even at my early juncture, my CPM's are mostly double-digits even when I was flying blind (no monetization tab). Anyone who wants to start a YT channel, unless they have a good non-Adsense monetization strategy, there are going to be a LOT of creators that will be consigned to part-time status for a long time.

People who want to monetize have to put their thinking caps on and look for ideas or examples to transition their channels that are more revenue friendly.
 
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Bubblegummonsters

New Member
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Really great to read this Stanley.

I'm going through a similar thing with my channel at the moment in that my core subscribers loved my old content but I've now pivoted.

I kind of feel like I'm locked in my own castle that I built up over the years. The walls are thick, made of all the subscribers that came for my old content. Now when I release new content it gets blocked by those walls, they're not interested in it so the click through and retention isn't great and it doesn't get the exposure it needs.

I'm hoping that by getting enough new videos out into the wild and also releasing shorts I'll be able to start breaking down the old walls flushing out metadata that Youtube has been relying on for years. I feel shorts are definitely helping, I'm just taking small clips from my longer form content and I'm finding that these short clips get far more exposure so hopefully I can use them to entice new subscribers outside of my castle walls.

Not sure if this analogy is correct but for me it feels right.