Assess content strategy
A strong content strategy will drive both programming and format choices. An analysis of watch time patterns can give you an idea of how your content is being perceived by your audience and may help inform future production or programming strategies.
Are content formats performing as expected?
People usually come to YouTube to be entertained, educated, or inspired. Content that targets viewer intentions can drive stronger audience engagement. People may reflexively turn to a digital device in order to watch something, learn something, or do something—and videos satisfying these needs are more likely to keep someone interested.
To evaluate how your content entertains, educates, or inspires, look at the Watch time report. Group your videos by each content format, and look at their watch time performance across a specific period. Determine how your data resembles or differs from the patterns below.
Entertaining content surprises and delights the audience, and often makes them laugh.
It’s usually part of a show or repeatable format and is generally central to a Hub strategy.
Educational content provides the audience with useful information.
It’s typically content that viewers search for regularly and is generally central to a Help strategy.
Inspirational content provokes reflection or emotion among the audience.
It’s typically highly sharable, one-off content and is generally central to a Hero strategy.
Pattern: Look for a spike followed by a gradual decline of watch time as people repeatedly return to the content. Pattern: Look for a spike followed by a relatively flat watch time curve that continues to get views months or even years after upload. Pattern: Look for a spike followed by a sharp drop off of watch time after the initial spike.
- Series or playlists can encourage viewership of similar content types.
- Calls to action help promote subscribership.
- There might be opportunities to improve search and discovery.
- The audience might be interested in complementary content.
- Content promotion across platforms can help increase traffic.
- Calls to action help encourage sharing.
From the analysis, look for content that you may not have appropriately categorized and determine ways to maximize how it's actually being consumed.
Based on the relative strength of each format, you can plan to create more content that would entertain, educate, or inspire audiences. If a format routinely performs below expectations, decide whether it makes sense to invest efforts in another format that has proven better results or whether there’s something else that could be done to increase the content’s performance.
Take special note of content that viewers may be engaging with in a different way than the channel originally intended. This surprise may reveal valuable opportunities for the channel to expand. One example could be an entertaining piece of content that turns out to be highly searched for, pointing to latent demand for educational content on the subject.
A channel that wants to expand in a particular content format, but lacks in-house expertise, may consider collaborating or syndicating to get there faster.
- See how other channels have implemented creative formats.
- Set up groups in YouTube Analytics to view aggregate data.
See it in action
Home Depot: DIY destinationThe Home Depot focuses primarily on educational videos, helping viewers prepare for and complete do-it-yourself home improvement projects.
Does the channel have a programming strategy?
You'll frequently find patterns in watch time that can inform your programming strategy. The strategy consists of more than a calendar; it serves as the foundation for the type of content and programming schedule—aligned with the channel mission and tailored for the target audience.
Hero-Hub-Help is a way to program complementary types of content to drive audience engagement on YouTube. There’s no one-size-fits-all model, and your programming strategy may depend on factors such as the channel value proposition, viewer passion points, and production resources.
To determine the watch time patterns for a channel, look at the Watch time report and overlay “video published". You can adjust the time period and look across a group of videos. Determine how your data resembles or differs from the patterns below.
Hero programming tends to include large-scale campaigns that are organized around tentpole events such as a product launch, sporting event, or holiday. Hub programming includes regularly scheduled videos that give the audience a reason to keep watching and coming back when new content is posted. Help programming educates the audience by answering questions that viewers are always searching for, such as how to tie a tie. Pattern: Look for surges in watch time right after publishing (green arrow) and a sharp decline shortly after the tentpole moment is over (red arrow). Pattern: Look for bumps in watch time (green arrow) after each video gets published, with a steady growth in watch time from that point forward. Pattern: Look for relatively stable watch time, independent of publishing. Note that watch time is steady even when there’s no new content (green arrow).
- Consider cross-promotions or collaborations to amplify Hero content.
- Build buzz leading up to the event with teaser videos.
- Maintain a consistent editorial voice and visual cues for Hub content.
- Communicate the publishing schedule in the video description.
- Check out Google Trends for high-volume searches in your target category.
- Articulate why the channel offers credible answers to the queries.
(Key: blue graph = watch time; orange bars = when videos are published)
Since Hero programming often requires a lot of orchestration, channels may want to plan for tentpole moments months in advance. For example, a shopping channel in the U.S. may want to plan for “Black Friday,” regarded as the start of the holiday shopping season, in the summer.
Hub programming may benefit from a consistent publication schedule. For example, a baby care channel may want to examine weekend versus weekday consumption to determine which days are more successful at reaching parents.
Knowing differences in watch time patterns can give you valuable insights into how your content is being consumed by your audience. For example, if you have a weekly beauty tips video that you programmed as part of a Hub strategy, but the watch time is flat, the content may be better suited as part of an evergreen Help strategy.