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What do impressions mean on YouTube?

If you type into Google: “What do impressions mean on YouTube?”, then you’ll see the following answer as a featured result by Google support to state the meaning of YouTube impressions:

How often viewers watched a video after seeing a thumbnail“.

In fact, this sounds simple.

It’s a measure of how many times someone saw your videos thumbnails and was actually impressed enough to click on the video to watch it.

However, the “view” is actually counted as an “impression” only if some conditions were met.

When are YouTube impressions counted?

YouTube impressions are counted only if someone saw more than 50% of your video’s thumbnail for more than 1 second.

So, if someone just passed your thumbnail without actually stopping and examining it, this will not count as an impression.

Also, if someone was scrolling and stopped in a position on the page where less than 50% of your thumbnail appears (just a little part of it), this will not also count as a YouTube impression.

Where are YouTube impressions counted?

To add, even if someone viewed more than 50% of your video’s thumbnail for more than 1 second, this will not necessarily count as a YouTube impression.

YouTube has defined a list of possible locations where thumbnails views are counted as impressions, and other where they aren’t.

See the following summarizing table created by Google support team.

Why is it important to check YouTube impressions?

If you thing about it, YouTube impressions alone are similar to “raw data” that needs to be put in context to be meaningful.

Of course, you can get some good insights from YouTube impressions.

However, the issue is that many factors that affect this metric are actually somehow out of your control and depend on YouTube algorithms, these include:

  • Personalization: YouTube recommends videos based on user’s watch history.

YouTube, taking into consideration watch history, watch time, topic preference, what videos are usually watched together and many other related factors, choose certain videos and recommend it to users.

  • Performance: Videos that perform better will get more YouTube impressions.

It’s like doing more of what’s already working.

When YouTube sees that a certain video is performing well by considering some satisfaction and engagement metrics, it will recommend the video more frequently to other viewers with similar interests.

This means more YouTube impressions as we understand so far.

  • External factors: These factors, as we said before, are out of your hands and can affect your videos impressions.

Topic interests naturally change overtime.

Trends come and go. Some topics go viral then people become progressively less and less interested after a while.

Seasonality do affect how many impressions your videos get on YouTube, and it’s 100% something you can do nothing about.

Important metrics related to YouTube impressions

These metrics represent a higher level of data that reflect how good your videos are performing.


CTR is a measure of how frequently someone clicks on your video to watch it in relation to how many times the video appeared (impressions).

CTR= Clicks/impressions

CTR is largely affected by important 2 factors:

1- YouTube thumbnails

YouTube thumbnails are true game changers on YouTube.

Don’t ever underestimate the power of a good video thumbnail.

Whether a potential viewer is going to click on your video to watch it or not depends on how attractive your thumbnail is.

Attractiveness here doesn’t mean necessarily that the thumbnail has to be esthetically pleasing.

Of course, esthetic appearance is important, however, you need to consider other important factors to create a thumbnail that attracts more clicks.

For example, it’s a good practice to add video’s title as a text with a good font and with a color that has good contrast with the background color.

Also, adding a touch of humor in the form of catchy images and graphs can help when relevant.

To help you understand what a good thumbnail looks like, here’s a good article shared on Fotor’s blog titled “11 YouTube Thumbnail Design Ideas to Catch More Attention“.

2- Video titles

As headlines affect CTR in Google Ads, video titles affect CTR in YouTube.

You have to spend a fair amount of time working on your videos’ titles in order to get the best out of them and improve your CTR.

Here’s another great article about how to get the most out of your YouTube videos titles shared on Vidiq’s blog “9 Ways to Write Exciting YouTube Titles for Your Videos“.

Other related metrics to YouTube impressions meaning

ViewsThe number of legitimate views for your channels or videos.
Views from impressionsViews that originated from impressions for the selected date range.
Watch time (hours)The amount of time viewers have watched your video.
Watch time from impressionsWatch time that originated from impressions for the selected date range.
Source: Google Support

It’s worth it to try VidIQ

So far, you now aware of YouTube impressions meaning and got an idea about other related important metrics.

From the experience of more than 1 million YouTube owners, using tools like VidIQ can be a game changer.

With an inclusive toolkit that tackles nearly all aspects of YouTube game, you’ll be ahead of your competitors by miles.

Keyword research & YouTube SEO tools, thumbnails editing tools, competitors analysis tools and many other tools are available at the tip of your fingers to optimize your videos to the max.

Checkout our previous article to know more about VidIQ YouTube marketing tool: vidIQ worth it or not? A to Z guide to help you decide

A take-home message

Never stop experimenting !

Across different digital content platforms, including YouTube, A/B testing and continuous experimentation is crucial.

Keep your eyes open on your competitors, recent trends and topics, global events…

Try new techniques in writing your headlines, use VidIQ to A/B test different thumbnails designs and choose your targeted keywords wisely.

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