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:

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:

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:

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:

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.

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.

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.

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.