New Metrics of Success: Video Completion Rate & Watch Time

30/Jun/2017 · 2 MINS READ

Are your viewers dropping away during the first 10-15 seconds of your video?

Measuring if someone viewed your video is a great way to report on reach, but measuring the video completion rate and watch time gives you a deeper insight into audience engagement with your content.

Figuring out the type and style of content that keeps your audience engaged can be a tricky process, so read for tips to creating content that will have your audience hooked.

A view vs. video completion

So what actually counts as a video view across each platform?

While views are a handy metric to report on, it should be taken into account that views offer a top line insight into engagement with your video content, and should be used in conjunction with other reporting metrics.


The first tip for creating a video designed to engage is choosing a square format rather than landscape. Square videos take up more real-estate on your audience’s feed, meaning they’re more likely to pause mid-scroll to watch the video. Engagement rates are 80-100% higher than other formats and increase video completion rates.

Square videos generally result in lower cost-per-views in mobile campaigns, meaning you’ll be able to reach more people for less spend.

Secondly, it’s important to bear in mind that a video is counted as ‘complete’ between 75% and 95% of its run time, which means shorter videos are more likely to have people watch through to the end. A report from Social Bakers found that Facebook videos that ran for 61 seconds had a ‘good’ completion rate, however videos that ran for a short 21 seconds had an ‘excellent’ completion rate.

While 21 seconds doesn’t seem like an adequate amount of time to communicate your message, marketers and content producers should think about how to use these shorter videos strategically. For example, content can be broken into a series of shorter, more engaging videos, or these shorter videos can be used as teasers leading the audience to the main content component on your brand blog or YouTube channel.

Amateur videographers like Cian Twomey have changed the way we produce and consume video content on social media.

Thirdly, subtitling your video is always a good idea. 85% of Facebook video is watched without sound. Subtitled videos result in 4% higher completion rates and increase the likelihood of sharing by 26%.


As a video-only website, audience engagement with your video is key for measuring success across Youtube.

YouTube measures ‘watch time’ as the key metric for organically driving traffic to your brand’s channel. While previously using ‘view counts’ as the primary measure of a video’s success,  the aggregated watch time of a video is now used ensure the audience is being served with genuinely engaging content.

That is to say, if people are spending a long time watching your videos on YouTube, YouTube’s algorithms will then send more viewers your way.

So how can you keep viewers engaged with your YouTube videos?

  • Creating public playlists of your content, which organically send a viewer from one of your videos to the next.
  • Add end screens with a strong call to action to drive the viewer to another of your videos.
  • Always include a visually interesting and relevant thumbnail for each of your videos to peak the audience’s interest. YouTube’s creator academy offers an in-depth breakdown on how to do this.


Measurement and reporting

Analysing metrics of success is key to understanding what worked and what could be improved for your next video campaign. Here are a few key tools to kickstart your reporting.


  • Use the Facebook retention curve to understand where in the video your audience drops off.
  • Filter results by auto-play vs. click-to-play. This identifies the people that clicked your video to watch, and whether the two groups behaved differently while watching your video.
  • Clicking on ‘Post’ will show you metrics about your video including Clicks to Play, Link Clicks, and Other Clicks. This will help determine if your video is driving clicks to your website.


  • Playback locations: find a break down of where people are watching the video i.e. on your YouTube page, embedded on another website etc.
  • Audience retention graph: you can see where people are dropping off and where they’re rewinding the video.
  • Engagement Reports: see who liked and disliked your video and who shared and commented on your content.


Read this next: Six New Social Media Features, And How Brands Can Use Them