It’s a powerful component of a content strategy.
It can have a big impact on engagement.
It’s how we know the behavior of our visitors.
It can inform decisions for ever-better performance.
But how do you track video views in Analytics?
More specifically, how do you track embedded YouTube videos using GA4?
This post gives you step-by-step instructions for using GA4 to measure the impact of your YouTube videos in your content marketing program.
If you’d like to sit back and watch rather than read, here’s everything in a video:
Note: this process is specifically for tracking YouTube video performance in GA4. We believe that YouTube is the best place to host and stream content marketing videos for several reasons. To track visitor interactions with embedded Vimeo videos (or other video players), you’ll need to use Google Tag Manager and a library specific to your video player. Follow these instructions.
GA4, unlike Universal Analytics, tracks YouTube video views by default, at least for embedded YouTube videos. No setup is required. No need to use Google Tag Manager.
Krista Seiden, Founder KS Digital
“I love this because I think it helps to democratize data and ensure consistent tracking across websites for video tracking and other Enhanced Measurement events. With Explore reports such as Funnels and Free-form, you can take this out-of-the-box data and create reports that will really help to move your business forward.”
Here is how to confirm that GA4 is tracking video views:
ProTip: While you’re in here, make sure that everything is turned on. This is where you tell GA4 that you want to track scrolling, exit clicks, site searches, file downloads, etc. Very very useful!
Notice that with GA4, it’s no longer necessary to have to create events using Google Tag Manager. That little switch is all you need to track videos on your website. If it isn’t turned on, you aren’t tracking your videos.
There are three video-related events:
To read more about video event tracking, the triggers and parameters, here’s Google’s documentation for GA4 Enhanced event measurement. But you don’t really need to know all the technical details to do basic YouTube video tracking.
Jeff Sauer, Data Driven University
“Once this tracking is in place, you can unlock a whole new level of insights into how video impacts and improves content marketing. By using exploration reports and even developing audiences based on videos watched, you can perform multiple levels of analysis that weren’t readily available in Universal Analytics.”
The impact of video on a content strategy is happier visitors. When visitors spend more time on a page, we can measure that in GA4.
Videos may also make your brand more memorable and trustworthy, but those aren’t things that show up in Google Analytics reports. So we’ll settle for website engagement.
Step 1: Click on Exploration > Blank Exploration. It’s always nice to start fresh.
Step 2: In the top left, name the exploration. I’ll call mine “Video Impact.”
Step 3: Click the ‘+’ next to DIMENSIONS, search for and select the “Page path and screen class” dimension, then click “Import”
Step 4: Click the ‘+’ next to METRICS, the search for and select “Sessions” “Engagement rate” and “Average engagement time per session” metrics, then click “Import”
We like engagement rate because it’s more meaningful than the old bounce rate metric. If you need a benchmark, our research found an average engagement rate of 55% across all traffic sources.
Step 5: Drag and drop the “Page path” dimension into the ROWS box and all of your metrics into the VALUES box
Now you’re looking at a report showing the pages with videos as rows and the activity on those pages as columns. That’s nice, but really, we’re trying to measure how video impacts engagement.
For that, we’ll need to create two segments, one for visitors who watch the videos and another for visitors who don’t. Then we can compare.
Step 6: Click ‘+’ next to SEGMENTS and the click “User segment”
Step 7: Name the segment. I’ll call mine “Video Watchers.”
Step 8: Set the segment to Include Users when video_start is greater than zero. This segment will only include data for visitors who triggered the video_start event.
Note: This works even if you don’t set the event count to zero. Just pick an event and GA4 will assume that you want to see the users who triggered that event. So helpful, this Analytics tool!
Your GA4 segment should look like this:
Notice that even before you save the segment, there is interesting data here. On the right, you can see what percentage of all of your users clicked a play button. In this account, it’s 1.6%
Step 9: Click “Save and Apply”
Next, we’ll make the second segment for visitors who didn’t watch any YouTube videos.
Step 10: Click ‘+’ next to SEGMENTS and the click “User segment”
Step 11: Name the segment. I’ll call mine “Video Non-Watchers.”
Step 12: Set the segment to Exclude Users when video_start is greater than zero
This segment will only include data for visitors who did NOT trigger the video_start event. You’ll need to click “+ Add condition group” button in the red exclude box and click the garbage can button in the green Include box.
Your GA4 segment should look like this:
Notice the mini report on the right. In this account for this date range, 98.2% of visitors didn’t watch a video.
Step 13: Click “Save and Apply”
All set! Now the report shows two groups of columns, one for those who watched a video and one for those who did not. If you don’t see much data, choose a longer date range.
We can now see the impact of adding YouTube videos to your website. We can answer the question about the value of YouTube and content strategy with data:
Are visitors who watch videos more engaged?
Clearly, these YouTube videos are making a difference in website engagement. In our content program, we’re doing 12-minute videos that take around 4 hours to produce. So knowing the actual impact is important.
Beyond website engagement, these videos drive off-site visibility. These videos often rank in Google and on YouTube itself. Some viewers subscribe on YouTube and never visit the website.
YouTube Studio is necessary for a complete look at the impact of these videos. Here’s what YT Analytics looks like for our YouTube Channel:
Of course, the high-level report is never as interesting or useful as the data one level deeper. Let’s do some analysis of some recent posts.
On this blog, my last four articles have included video versions of the content, embedded as YouTube videos high on the page. Our idea is to keep differentiating our content from lower quality or AI-generated content.
Let’s look at the performance of those specific video-enhanced URLs.
I’ve removed the other rows by right-clicking on them to “Exclude selection” from this report. I’ve also changed the cell type to heat map because it looks nice.
Looking closer at the content, I spot a few correlations, confirming some patterns we’ve seen across all of our articles and videos.
Clearly, I need to focus on videos for technical topics, keep them high on the page, and always add [VIDEO] to the headers and email subject lines for these articles.
I could go on and do more analysis, find more patterns and make ever-better decisions. Here are a few examples of YouTube video tracking using GA4 that come to mind:
For that last one, you’ll need to create a custom dimension and wait a while while it gathers data. It’s not really a custom event since the parameter is built into GA4.
You can do that from the Admin > Custom Definitions section. Click “Create custom dimensions” and use the following settings.
Imagine how useful this deeper analysis could be. Imagine all of these insights on a single Google Analytics dashboard.
Embedding video content is easy. YouTube video tracking takes a bit more work. But it’s worth it.
Now, you can measure the impact of embedding YouTube videos into articles (reporting).
And better yet, you can get ideas and insights into how to make those videos work harder (analysis).
And finally, you’ve leveled up your GA4 skills
Tell a friend and ask them to endorse you for GA4 on LinkedIn. 👏
(if I am your friend, ask me!)
I followed all the steps mentioned above but when I try to create a segment, I can’t see ‘Video view’ in the dropdown. Can you please help me here?
Any advice on how to do this with natively embedded videos hosted on AWS?
I placed a YouTube video from another account on my landing page. The tag manager account I used to tag the video is from another gmail address. Will I get analytics from that video?
Just want to say that I have never used GTM before but I managed to set this up reading this article! Thank you for the clear instructions.
Awesome article, Andy! Hope you are doing well 🙂 I am curious, we have videos embedded on our site not through YouTube but through Vidyard which is connected to our HubSpot account. We use a Vidyard code to embed these on our website. Will this event tracking still work the same or would I need to do something differently? Thanks!
When I audit someone’s site for their Google Analytics implementation, this is one of the most common things I see that needs to be done. Good instruction (as always!) Andy. But truly, I think the final minute is the most valuable part of your video. It does little good to track things in GA if you don’t know how to use the data once you have it! Bravo!
It’s all about the analysis, right?
I kind of blew off instructions for tracking non-YouTube videos. Do you do much of this, Tom? Can it be done with just GTM and without custom HTML?
Thinking of you (and referring you) often, Tom! I wish we could hang out more. 🙂
Bounteous, Cardinal Path and Analyticsmania all have Vimeo tracking GTM containers that you can import. Unfortunately it’s not nearly as easy to set up as YouTube tracking 🙂
Does this work on non Youtube videos?…I have uploaded a video in my website and try to track using this but the the tag is not firing..so I was thinking maybe because it was not a Youtube video
I have only been online 12 years..lol and this is the first time I am ever hearing this stuff or even thought of most of it. Leave it to Andy to once again over deliver in the content telling uss important things we are missing and helpful tips and insight as opposed to just spewing the same stuff everyone else is talking about. A big Thanks!
Glad you liked this one! Video tracking is a big gap that a lot of people miss…
Very nice & informational blog on youtube video tracking, but it would be great if you will show us how to track other platforms video too, such as vimeo.
Vimeo tracking is not as straightforward as YouTube tracking. Here is one resource that shows you how to do it. https://www.bounteous.com/insights/2017/04/07/vimeo-tracking-gtm/
What are your thoughts?