You probably already know that video is the best way to make your products and services easier to understand for your prospects and customers.
And when it comes to using video online, YouTube is the largest and most accessible video-sharing community in the world, enabling you to embed videos directly to your website(s).
Odds are you’ll end up using it, so it’s important that you learn how to track the performance of your YouTube videos. It’s the only way to know which videos are working, which aren’t, and how much of each video your visitors watch.
What changed? Google added a trigger to Google Tag Manager that lets you set up YouTube video tracking quickly and easily.
Now — finally — you can use Google Tag Manager to accurately measure visitor engagement with your video content.
Why would you even want to track your videos in Google Analytics?
After you upload a video to YouTube, you get access to analytics data on that video. Even if the video is embedded in your website, the data will still be recorded in the YouTube interface.
So, if YouTube already has tracking installed, why would you want to track this data in Google Analytics as well?
Four very good reasons:
- You see all of your data in one place — By having all your analytics data in one place, you don’t need to switch between different applications to analyze your customers. Keeping everything under the same Google Analytics roof makes it much easier, faster, and more efficient to draw insights.
- You can use the tracking data as a base for future goals — By creating events of video views, you can use those events as goals in Google Analytics, letting you track as a visitor that interacts with your videos directly as a “conversion”.
- You can easily compare results and track visitor progress visitors (using behavior and event flow reports) — When data is available within Google Analytics, you can track and compare the behavior of visitors over different time periods, or based on their acquisition source or other traffic properties in Google Analytics. In Google Analytics, you can see which videos were most popular, which led to conversion and purchase, and so on.
- Ability to see which visitor segments viewed the videos more than others — Finally, in Google Analytics, you can use segments to observe how popular your video or videos were for different groups of your visitors. This way, you’ll know what part or parts of your video were excellent and which weren’t good enough, instead of only knowing that visitors didn’t like it. You can even personalize your videos based on data from your segments.
How to set up your YouTube trigger
You can easily set up a YouTube trigger as a tag, similar to the mechanism for scroll tracking. Instead of percentages of page depth, you’ll use a percentage of video length.
To create a GA event that will report a YouTube video being watched, start by creating a new tag. When you open the new tag dialog, you’ll first need to select the type of tag you want to use.
The dialog box consists of two main elements: “Tag Configuration” and “Triggering”.
Tag Configuration allows you to select the type of tag you want to use, including “Analytics” tag, “Third-party” tag, and “Custom” tag. Triggering allows you to define the precise circumstances that will activate the tag and send a hit report to Google Analytics.
Since you want the hit report to appear in Google Analytics, the tag type you select should be the Universal Analytics tag.
When you select the Universal Analytics tag type, you only need to use a Google Analytics setting to enable Tag Manager to establish an event that reports hits to your GA account.
If you’ve set up your Google Tag Manager properly, you will have made a variable that contains the ID number of your Google Analytics account, as well as other settings you can modify using Google Tag Manager. Make sure your Google Analytics Settings field contains the variable with the correct ID number, or the data from the tag will not be reported to your GA account.
“Track Type” is an important part of tag configuration, since it defines what’s being tracked. For the usual application of tracking in Google Analytics, Page View is the default track type, so the tag can be fired on every page. This means that the tag will be added to every page of the site, but fire a report only when the selected conditions are met.
For pages that contain no video, the tag will remain inactive.
When you finish with the tag configuration and define the tag type, you’ll also need to define the trigger for the tracking event. The trigger is a set of circumstances that will send a report to Google Analytics and show when the visitors play and view the video. The trigger is a necessary element in every Google Tag Manager tag, as it makes the tag fire.
Next, define the trigger
To define the trigger for the tag, click the Triggering section at the bottom of the new tag dialog.
When you click on this box, a dialog opens where you can select the type of trigger you want to add to your tag.
The trigger for “YouTube video tracking” has recently been added to the number of triggers available by default, which — luckily for us — removes the need to use third-party solutions that required a ton of code.
When you open the “Choose a trigger” dialog, you’ll see only the triggers you’ve used so far. If you haven’t used the YouTube video trigger type before, it won’t be listed among your available triggers. You’ll need to add it to the list.
To add the trigger, click the plus sign at the top right corner of the dialog. This will open the trigger configuration dialog.
By clicking inside the box, you can choose a trigger to add to the list of the available triggers. Click “YouTube Video”.
Once you click “YouTube Video,” it will open (another) screen — this is where you’ll define the properties of the trigger. For any trigger to function properly, you need to define the visitor actions you want to track.
There are three types of properties in the YouTube trigger that you can adjust to enhance how the tag sends a video-playing event report to Google Analytics.
Property 1: Capture
Capture contains four different actions: “Start,” “Complete,” “Pause, Seeking, and Buffering,” and “Progress”. Each has a checkbox you can check to enable tracking and reporting of the specific actions in Google Analytics.
As the name suggests, “Start” tracks and reports when visitors click the start or play the video. This report will be contained in GA’s Behavior events section, allowing you to analyze the number of visitors who started playing the video vs. the total number of those who navigated to the page.
Likewise, “Complete” tracks the proportion of visitors who viewed the entirety of the video. This piece of information, together with the number of those who started the video, is vital to judge your video’s success. If only a fraction of visitors actually view the video in its entirety, it may mean that it is not engaging enough (read: it’s boring).
The operative words in the previous sentence are “may mean”. While in general it’s true that you would want your audience to view your entire video, even if they don’t, you might still see good results.
Your video can still be a smashing success even if the audience views only half of it, and then decides to buy something from your website.
You’d never know that if you were limited only to the first two properties, “Start” and “Play”.
Of course, you could examine your Event Flow report and analyze the proportion of visitors that end up converting after viewing the video.
The approach using the Event Flow report is helpful to confirm that you actually profit from having videos on your ecommerce website, AKA they either lead to more conversions or represent an integral part of your customer experience.
But if this report is inconclusive — i.e., viewing video does not result in changes in user flow or behavior — you’ll then need to observe other indicators of video performance.
Property 2: Pause, Search, and Buffering
“Pause, Search, and Buffering” show you the parts of videos where viewers paused, skipped, or encountered a buffering problem. While pausing is likely an inconclusive piece of data, since viewers pause video for any number of reasons, the other two actions can be more indicative.
If you detect that many visitors actually skip some part of your video, you may consider editing the video to leave out that part and shorten the video.
If an equal number of viewers views different parts of your video, you might consider splitting it into two parts, thus engaging both segments of your audience better. (By analyzing the structure of your audience, you can increase personalization by offering each segment only the part they are interested in.)
Property 3: Progress
Finally, the “Progress” property indicates how far in the video viewers progress. Similarly to scroll tracking, progress is shown in Percentages or Time Thresholds.
Percentage (or time) of video viewed is important in understanding the performance of your video, since it offers a more granular analysis of viewer behavior. While the majority of viewers may not watch to the very end, maybe the most important part is toward the beginning — and that part influences the behavior of your visitors. In this case you can even consider shortening the video itself, since it seems to be doing the job.
Of course, if the opposite is true, and the majority of viewers stop watching the video at some point, especially early on, you’ll have a clear understanding of where to improve the content of your video.
Decide when the trigger should fire
The final parameter you can adjust is to enable the tag to trigger on all or only on some videos on your website. Triggering the tag selectively can lower the load on your analytics effort by excluding less-important videos from tracking.