From Boring to Captivating: Strategies for Improving Your Average View Duration on YouTube

Analytics Mar 21 22 minutes read

Table of contents

    Nothing is worse than spending hours upon hours brainstorming ideas for YouTube videos, shooting at the right time, and carefully editing them, only to find your viewers exiting after watching the first 10 seconds. 

    Does the above sound familiar to you? 

    Increasing the average view duration of your videos is key to being successful on the platform. A higher number means your content is engaging and you’ll be rewarded with more views and clicks in the future.  

    To find out what a good average view duration on YouTube is along with tried and tested ways to improve this engagement metric, we asked our community of experts for advice.

    But before we get into details, let’s go over some basics. If you’d rather skip to the meaty part of the article, you can select from the below table of contents. 

    What Is Average View Duration On YouTube?

    The average view duration on YouTube shows the average amount of time viewers spend watching a video. 

    Average view duration is directly proportional to how engaging and interesting your videos are. If you’re successful in engaging your viewers throughout the video, your average view duration will rise drastically.   

    Tracking this metric becomes even more important as it can greatly impact your ad revenue. The longer people watch your videos, the more ads they’ll see. Hence, enabling you to make more money from ads

    If you’re curious about how this figure is calculated, just divide the total time spent watching a video by the number of times it is played, including any playbacks. The average view duration is expressed in minutes and seconds and if it’s shown as a percentage then that’s referred to as the average percentage viewed. 

    Don’t worry, you don’t need to manually calculate the average view duration for all your videos – you can just view them on YouTube Studio. 

    There are two ways to view YouTube average view duration: a) channel level and b) video level. 

    To get an overview of your channel’s average view duration, go to Analytics and then Engagement. You’ll see the average view duration towards the top left, as shown in the image below. 

    How to see your average view duration in YouTube Studio


    To view the average view duration of an individual video, search for the video in the search bar and then follow the same path (Analytics > Engagement) and you’ll see the average view duration towards the top left. 

    Related: How to Create a Comprehensive YouTube Analytics Report: Step-By-Step Guide

    Does Average View Duration Affect Search Rankings?

    Average view duration is far from being a vanity metric as it directly impacts the video’s search rankings. 

    YouTube is the second most popular website in the world, which means you have to beat some tough competition to appear on top of the search results. And having a good average view duration will help you do just that. 

    Remember when we said the average view duration translates to how engaging your videos are? Well, YouTube themselves have stated they consider engagement as a search ranking factor. 

    In the words of YouTube, “We’ve started adjusting the ranking of videos in YouTube search to reward engaging videos that keep viewers watching.”

    Since videos with good average view durations are engaging, they are automatically valuable in the eyes of YouTube, and the same will be reflected in their search rankings. 

    It all makes sense when you think that YouTube would want people to stay on their platform for long and videos with high average view durations would keep people glued to the video streaming company. 

    What is a Good Average View Duration on YouTube? 

    When tracking average view duration, the higher the better. But what is a good average view duration on Youtube that you can compare your performance with? 

    To find this out, we surveyed 36 companies/agencies. 

    Our respondents comprise of:

    • Agency/consultants (marketing, digital, or media) – 38.89%
    • B2C services or products – 30.56%
    • Mix of B2B and B2C – 19.44%
    • B2B services or products – 11.11%  

    When asked about how long they’ve had a YouTube channel, the majority of our respondents have had it between 1 and 10 years – with 25% having it for 1-3 years, 22.22% for 3-5 years, and 25% for 5-10 years. On the contrary, 13.89% of our respondents don’t have a YouTube channel for their business. 

    What is a Good Average View Duration on YouTube? 

    Before we asked about what the average view duration for their YouTube channel is, we wanted to know how satisfied they are with it. And interestingly, 74.19% of the surveyed companies reported that they are satisfied with their average view duration. 

    Are companies satisfied with their current average view duration on Youtube?

    Talking about their channel’s average view duration, Tomasz Niezgoda from Surfer – the popular SEO software with nearly 9,000 YouTube subscribers – shared, “I am happy with our current average view duration on YouTube videos because it is reflective of the content we are producing.” 

    Niezgoda further adds, “Our shorter one-minute shorts and explainer videos tend to get an average view duration between 45 to 60 seconds, which shows that people find them engaging and relevant enough for a quick overview. On the other hand, longer guides or webinars have been able to capture viewers’ interest over 6 minutes up to 30+ minutes – this indicates that they provide value in terms of knowledge transfer while being entertaining at the same time.”

    Coming back to why you’re here – what is a good average view duration on YouTube? 

    Well, according to Databox’s Benchmark Groups data, the median value for average view duration in the last month was 1 minute and 31 seconds – this figure is based on data from 84 companies. 

    Are you looking to anonymously compare your YouTube channel’s engagement with similar companies? Join this Benchmark Group and see how your average view duration, watch time, and more stack up against your competition. 

    When we asked our surveyed companies what they think a good average view duration is for a YouTube video, they agreed that it should be 1-2 minutes or more. 

    How to Increase Average View Duration on YouTube: 11 Tips from Experts

    Is your YouTube average view duration in need of some improvement? Well, you’ve landed at the right place as our respondents spill the beans on how they successfully improved this metric. 

    According to our surveyed companies, making an eye-catchy intro is the best way to improve YouTube’s average view duration. 

    Jas Banwait Gill followed the same principle at SwagMagic. Gill shares, “We intentionally pack the most persuasive content in the first half of the video so that viewers can fully understand how they can benefit from our offering within 30 seconds.”

    Other best practices popular among our respondents were optimizing YouTube thumbnails and video descriptions.

    How to Increase Average View Duration on YouTube

    We’ll be discussing these tried and tested tips for improving the average view duration of YouTube videos in detail below. 

    1. Making an eye-catching intro

    With attention spans decreasing day by day, if you’re not able to deliver value or hook the viewers during the start of your video, they’ll switch to a different one in no time. 

    An attention-grabbing introduction has the power to convince your users to stick around and watch the video till the end. Ultimately, increasing your video’s average view duration. 

    A good YouTube video introduction should have two things: 

    • A catchy intro 
    • Something to hook your audience  

    The intro of a YouTube video is a short clip that is shown before the main content of that video. So something like the F.R.I.E.N.D.S intro clip but adapted for YouTube. 

    A good intro not only attracts your viewers but also helps in creating a unique brand persona. Videos change but the intro remains the same. If you’ve been successful at creating an attractive intro, then people can recognize your videos solely through it, even if they didn’t see your channel name. 

    The second part of a good introduction is to deliver something that hooks the audience and convinces them to watch the video till the end. 

    Joe Troyer from ReviewGrower agrees, “I’ve found that making an interesting introduction helps increase the time people spend watching my videos on YouTube. What’s promised in the video’s title and thumbnail needs to be delivered in the opening. Ten to fifteen seconds are a make-or-break period. They must be intriguing and engaging in order to live up to the standards of the audience.” 

    But what makes an opening attractive? Troyer lays it out for us, “Intrigue viewers with fascinating video clips, before-and-after versions, and even bloopers from the production. Such excerpts provide a taste of the video’s content and grab the audience’s attention right away.” 

    Take the example of Slidebean’s video below. 

    The video starts with the hook – a preview of four things to know to get funding – and follows with a quirky and vibrant intro that features their logo.  

    2. Optimizing video descriptions

    Brands often ignore YouTube video descriptions and worse, just do the bare minimum – add their website and social links. But optimizing them can increase your videos’ average view durations. 

    Say someone is searching YouTube for how to create a website from scratch. This topic requires a tutorial video that can take anything from 15 minutes to an hour or more. That person is not going to watch all the videos on the search page but would find the most valuable video that’s worth their time. 

    You can share how valuable your videos are through the video descriptions. 

    So the searcher lands on a video with a description that mentions the steps that’ll be covered in the video, a list of the best tools, and related video links that’ll help to make an amazing website. It’ll be no surprise that the searcher will watch that video completely because that’s exactly what they’re looking for. 

    3. Optimizing YouTube thumbnails

    Gone are the days of clickbait thumbnails. If a video’s thumbnail promises one thing and delivers something completely else, be rest assured viewers will call out that content creator.  

    The thumbnail is the first thing a viewer sees, which is why you should put in extra effort to make a solid first impression. 

    Creating an interesting and attractive thumbnail will excite viewers to click on the video and once they’re there, you just need to maintain their attention. 

    Marisa Tolsma from Bumblebee Apothecary has the same opinion. Tolsma shares three strategies for increasing average view duration, with the first and second being having a short introduction and giving a sneak peek at the video’s beginning. 

    Concerning thumbnails, Tolsma says, “A third strategy is to have something in the thumbnail and/or video title that really gets them interested, and have that tidbit later in the video so that they will watch longer to see it.” 

    The key to a successful thumbnail is to use clear and concise text, make the design easy on the eyes and highlight what the video will be about. We love the thumbnails that Canva creates for its YouTube videos.  

    Thumbnail example from Canva's YouTube channel

    Related: 18 Tips for Writing YouTube Video Titles That Drive Views

    4. Create teasers for your videos

    Teasers are great because they build curiosity and increase anticipation to watch the full video. They can also increase the average view durations of your regular videos. 

    People may hesitate to watch a 20-minute video because of the time commitment. But a 30-second teaser that gives a sneak peek of what to expect in the full video can encourage viewers to watch it. They’ll stick to the video till they get the value as shown in the teaser. 

    Teasers are also great for getting more viewers on your videos. You can share teasers on your LinkedIn page or newsletter and encourage your audience to watch the full video on YouTube. 

    Related: 23 Content Distribution Tips & Channels For Getting More Eyes on Your Videos

    5. Post videos consistently 

    No one likes a one-time wonder. 

    The key to being successful on YouTube is posting videos consistently and that too of the same high quality. Even Mr.Beast who has over 130 million subscribers on YouTube still uploads a new video every one to two weeks. 

    Posting regularly creates an expectation in your subscribers’ minds and they get accustomed to your publishing patterns. Provided the videos are engaging, they’ll get used to watching the newly uploaded videos as they’re published. And an engaged following results in a higher average view duration. 

    On the contrary, if videos follow an inconsistent pattern, your subscribers will seem to forget about your channel and find other regular brands to follow. 

    Another reason why you should post videos consistently is that the freshness of content is a search ranking factor. The more regularly you upload videos, the higher the chances of getting a better search ranking and getting people to watch them. 

    Related: How to Make a YouTube Video Go Viral (with 8 Easy Tips)

    6. Using YouTube Chapters

    If you want to improve the average view duration of your videos, you need to add chapters to them. 

    YouTube chapters break up a video into sections and each section has its own preview clip. Chapters are a must for longer videos because they give an overview of what will be shown in the video. 

    It’s difficult to share how valuable a video is at the start and if you haven’t given a reason for your viewers to stay, they’ll switch to another video quickly. Hence, lowering your average view duration. Chapters stop this from happening as viewers can easily see what the video covers and can skip to the sections that attract them the most. 

    Another benefit of chapters is that they encourage replays. People can always come back to a video and rewatch the chapter they’re interested in. 

    Madison Tong from My Supplement Store reinforces the importance of chapters – and consistent uploads – in improving the average view durations. 

    Tong says, “The tactics that work best for us to increase our video average view duration is posting videos consistently and using YouTube chapters. Posting consistently really helps get your channel out there and people will always have something new to watch. Using the chapters is also beneficial to your customers, especially with live streams. The customers can find the answer to the question they were wondering quickly and efficiently.”

    7. Creating videos based on relevant keywords

    Keywords are not just meant for Google. YouTube SEO is a whole other world and if you want to do YouTube right, you need to use SEO best practices. 

    To get people to watch videos till the end, you must create videos that they want to see. A keyword analysis can help you discover topics your viewers are interested in. Not only should you base your videos on these keywords but mention them in titles and descriptions to make it easier for people to find your content. 

    Travis Lindemeon from Nexus IT Group agrees on using keywords for improving average view duration. 

    “I’ve found that focusing on developing content based on long-tail keywords helps me increase my average watch length on YouTube. People who enter a video’s title and begin searching for information around a long-tail term are more likely to see it through to the conclusion.” 

    Travis Lindemeon

    Travis Lindemeon

    Customer Experience Exec & Managing Director at Nexus IT Group

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    You can find relevant keywords easily by investing in a quality SEO software. You can also use these tools to track keywords being used by your competitors. 

    Lindemeon recommends another way to find keywords. Lindemeon says, “Looking through YouTube’s keyword suggestions is a simple technique to find long-tail keywords. User preferences have informed these recommendations.”

    8. Publishing YouTube Shorts

    YouTube Shorts were introduced to compete with TikTok and truth be told, they are an important weapon in a marketer’s arsenal. If you’re still not convinced just know that YouTube Shorts get 30 billion views per day. 

    These 60-second mini-videos have the potential to increase your YouTube videos’ average view duration significantly. 

    YouTube Shorts follow an endless scroll approach whereby content is continuously loaded as a viewer scrolls. In other words, there is no ending in sight which is why viewers often find themselves scrolling for hours. The same is not possible for traditional longer videos as they require more energy to be consumed. 

    When you create Shorts of full videos, you’re increasing their chances of getting viewed by tons of people. And if you’ve been successful in capturing their interest with these Shorts, they’ll make their way to your channel and watch that specific video. 

    If they made the effort to stop watching Shorts and watch your video instead, they’ll surely spend more time viewing them. Hence, increasing your video’s average view duration. 

    Here’s how you can convince your viewers with Shorts: 

    • Share one actionable tip and end the Short by saying that if viewers want more amazing tips, they can watch the video linked in the description. 
    • End with a cliffhanger that makes your viewers so curious that they end up watching the full video. 
    • Create high-quality Shorts that encourage viewers to check out videos on your channel. 

    Related: Best Short Video Apps: When to Choose TikTok, Instagram Reels or YouTube Shorts

    9. Making a YouTube end card with the channel name and website

    Just like introductions are important, so are conclusions. The way you end videos helps in discovering related content, increasing subscribers, and raising brand awareness.

    To increase average view duration, consider adding an end card when a video concludes. End cards or end screens can be anything you want them to be, but they usually include the following: 

    • Channel name and brand logo 
    • Thank you message for watching the video 
    • Similar videos of interest to viewers 
    • Links to websites and social media profiles 
    • Call to action, with the common being ‘Subscribe Now’ 

    If one enjoyed watching a video, they’d watch other videos when recommended to them. This will increase views and ultimately, average view duration. 

    10. Adding videos to playlists

    The playlist section on YouTube is an untapped gold mine for many. 

    A playlist is a compilation of similar videos, usually based on the same topics or video lengths. For instance, Semrush has separate playlists for videos on SEO tricks, content marketing, and YouTube optimization. 

    Surely sorting your videos into different playlists looks organized, but does it improve average view durations? 

    Well, yes. Since videos are now divided into different topics, it’ll make it easier for viewers to select the ones that interest them. In other words, they’ll stay on your channel for long and watch more videos (and for a longer time) since it’s the content type they’re in search of. 

    11. Following an engaging video structure

    If you’ve ever written an article, you’d know the value of a well-thought-out outline. Not only does the outline make it easier for the writer to write but ensures the end product is structured well and easier to consume. 

    Similarly, having a robust structure for your YouTube videos helps the content to flow naturally and prolongs the time a viewer spends watching them. Hence, improving the average view duration. 

    Rachel Stone from Stone Cottage Home shares the structure that increased her videos’ average view durations which resulted in 90% of her video views coming from Youtube suggestions. 

    “My favorite structure is as follows: 

    Hook: In less than 30 seconds, tell your audience what your video is about. Do it in a way that speaks to their problems or desires and entices them to continue watching. 

    Visual Hook: Because my niche is home decor and design, my audience is primarily interested in the visuals of my video and not the words I am saying. I always show short clips of my best shots from later in the video at the beginning. This quick preview lets the viewer know that there is great content to come and keeps them watching. 

    Bonus: I always include a bonus at the end of my video. This is something extra enticing that I know my people will want to see. I mention the bonus in the introduction section of my video so that they know up front that they need to keep watching to the end to get the juiciest part of the video.”


    Benchmark Your YouTube Performance With Databox

    Long story short – if you want a high ROI from YouTube marketing, you must do a lot more than improve your average view duration. You should strive to be the best in the game and that wouldn’t be possible without outperforming your competitors’ videos.

    Instead of spending thousands of dollars on competitor research agencies, use a free benchmarking tool with data shared directly by your competitors. 

    Sounds too good to be true? 

    Databox Benchmarks Groups lets you compare your YouTube performance metrics with your competitors completely anonymously and free of cost. 

    Browse through the YouTube Engagement Benchmarks Group to analyze how your YouTube performance (average view duration, views, subscribers gained, and more) stacks up against hundreds of similar companies in your niche.

    Use this exclusive data to identify improvement areas, devise timely strategies, prioritize your activities, and much much more. 

    If you want a full 360° view of your company’s success spanning across marketing, sales, and finance, sign up for Benchmarks Groups today to leverage meaningful industry data like never before.

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