A holy grail story I know…What defines the perfect video? Video tastes are subjective, but what if I could show you statistical and empirical evidence that could help you in your discovery of the Holy Grail…er I mean the perfect video? There is a place I love to go when examining my video stats.

A YouTuber's Best Friend: YouTube Insight HotSpots

Hidden deep below the surface of the Insight tab is a secret gem called…-Hot Spot. Ok, well this feature is actually nothing new, in fact it came out several years ago. However, have you ever gone so deep into HotSpot (subsequently analyzing over 400 videos to determine a pattern in gaining the highest consistency of viewer attention) that your eyes popped out of your head?

Well I have, and luckily I was able to put them back in long enough to share this with you.

The YouTube Hot Spot Feature analyzes a video's viewer attention. The analysis is based on all of the views of a particular video and when in that video those viewers start to lose interest and stop watching--whether it's the beginning of the video, middle of the video, or at the end.

The Hot Spot Feature can tell you whether your video is instant yawn material or if it's making people stand up in their chairs screaming…”Wow, this is the Citizen Cane of Web Videos!!”

A Quick Note about the Hot Spots feature from YouTube:

YouTube's features documentation states that you need 300 views on a video after March 2011 for the Hot Spot Graph and data to propagate, as seen in this screenshot:

YouTube Insight HotSpots: Reviewing Viewer Attention for Entertainment & Informative Video casey1 606x419

Well I have actually found this not to be the case. Here is a screenshot below of a video that has over the 300 views and it was uploaded May 23, 2011:

YouTube Insight HotSpots: Reviewing Viewer Attention for Entertainment & Informative Video casey2 606x217

And finally here is the Hot Spot Data from that same video. As you can see, YouTube is saying that there is insufficient data to display the Hot Spot Graph:

YouTube Insight HotSpots: Reviewing Viewer Attention for Entertainment & Informative Video casey3 606x256

I have tested it out on many videos, and a good rule of thumb for a minimum number of views to guarantee Hot Spot data is about 1300-1500 views.

We are going to continue on by examining the two categories of video content, Entertainment and Informative.

Viewer Attention Span & Entertaining Videos

An Entertaining Video analyzed in Hot Spot will usually show that when someone comes to an entertaining video their attention to that video starts HIGH and ends LOW, like this:

YouTube Insight HotSpots: Reviewing Viewer Attention for Entertainment & Informative Video casey4 606x351

Entertaining videos tend to have the ability to reel people in through cool thumbnails or animation. Therefore, the attention starts high from the audience and the greatest fallout of a viewer is at the end of the video. Usually Entertaining videos start great but tend to only go downhill from there.

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REMEMBER-Entertaining videos generally follow the rule to grab ones attention within the first 5 seconds of a video.

Usually an entertaining video loses interest not because the content starts to fail, but usually because the length of the video is too long. A dip can occur at a time where much of the audience is starting to ask the question, "where is this video is going?”

A nice rule of thumb for an entertainment-based video is to keep the video length between 1-3 minutes. Usually anything more and you will begin to loose the attention of the audience.

YouTube Insight HotSpots: Reviewing Viewer Attention for Entertainment & Informative Video casey5 606x379

Viewer Attention Span & Informative Videos

An Informative Video will show the complete opposite data…interesting! Informative videos are designed to provide usable information. The informative video can be in the form of a "How To" video or:

  • News
  • Tutorials
  • Training And More.

With the informative video, attention tends to start LOW and end HIGH. Another way to look at it is in the beginning of the video, the highest number of fall-outs occur. BUT, those that stay to watch the video, tend to watch it till the end.

People who come to watch these videos generally are here for a purpose, to learn… to gain knowledge in regards to whatever topic the video is about. Therefore, more people will stay longer to get all of the information a video has to offer.

Because the video is generally a training video or instructional video, there is a greater commitment to watching the video. Therefore, these videos can afford to be longer without having the same fear of disinterest that the entertaining video have.

YouTube Insight HotSpots: Reviewing Viewer Attention for Entertainment & Informative Video casey6 606x279

An informative video can be in upwards of 10 minutes long and still hold relative interest. However, I would say, at 5 minutes, you may notice a slight drop in that interest.

YouTube Insight Hotspot is a great tool that provides a great way for creators to see exactly when and where in a video the viewers are tuning out. Different styles or video approaches can hold the audience's attention longer, and at different points in the clip.

For a look at what happens when you combine entertainment and informative videos together, you can read my follow-up article here.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000539015671 Anuj Rawat

    nice informative , thanks!

  • jeremy vest

    Although I agree that it's annoying not knowing how YouTube Hot Spots really work. Like clock work spikes happen when the video changes. Hot Spots are by far the biggest factor for me to improve my videos.

    Here is my newest video that was scripted based on Hotspot research:

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=196500709 Joe Fier

    Awesome post buddy! Really interesting stuff :)

  • http://www.videoleadsonline.com VideoLeadsOnline

    I agree with Casey... on my Droid Training Channel, people stay for the longer videos 'cause they want to learn the info presented. I try to put a teaser in the front that is shown at the end, even in the informative vids.

    Question: How do the hot spots take into account the fact that some viewers pause, or replay a part of the video over and over?

  • Douglas Hoover

    Excellent information Casey! I have a couple of videos that I need to check out now.

  • http://youtuberevealed.com/ Casey


    A Cat video has a different audience then a marketing video. However the notion of engagement and interest holds true based on the DATA above. Now you're right, there aren't raw numbers but if you study enough of these graphs for different videos , there is a pattern. A pretty interesting pattern and a pretty interesting outcome for discovering the best approach to take in creating your video content.

    It is all about tapping into what your audience wants to see.


  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=645339427 Casey Zeman

    Catherine, How are you? Thank's Steve and Donna!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=668292680 Steve Harris

    Yes, interesting read...

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000612578617 Catherine Johnston

    Interesting! Thanks Casey!

  • Donna Davis

    Good post. Thank you.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1177363116 Mark Robertson

      Good to see you on here Donna. Hope all is great

  • http://teddylyngaas.com Teddy Lyngaas

    I've always been frustrated with the hotspots and audience engagement since there are no raw numbers behind the graphs. You're left with a vague notion of what's actually being measured and there are no benchmarks to compare. As you pointed out not all videos are created equal in content, length, etc. So to compare a popular video of a cat with say a marketing video isn't necessarily fair.

  • Joshua Zamora

    Hey Casey! Excellent post man I didn't even realize YouTube provided this kind of insight.

    I think this can be powerful to help one understand how they can improve their videos by seeing when people lose interest the most on a particular video.