What Does Impressions Mean on YouTube? Are They the Same as Views?

Disclosure: This site is sponsored by affiliate programs. We may earn money from the companies mentioned in this post. As an Amazon affiliate partner we may earn from qualifying purchases.

As someone who started her YouTube journey earlier this year, I’ve been eager to learn as much as I can about the platform.

I’ve been reading The YouTube Formula and consulting with other, larger YouTubers in my niche.

I feel somewhat lucky in that, coming from the world of blogging and SEO, the YouTube platform doesn’t feel entirely foreign to me.

However, my mistakes have been plentiful along the way. And I’m still tweaking as I go.

And that’s OK. We never learn and grow if we don’t stumble and fall every once in a while.

But because I am a big believer in sharing knowledge and passing it on, today I want to talk about one of the most interesting YouTube metrics – impressions – and why they are important.

The YouTube Formula
The YouTube Formula Book has been an incredible resource for me on this journey. I highly recommend picking up a copy on Amazon. It walks you through tried and true video strategy as well as the “inner workings” of the YouTube algorithm (photo by Morgan Overholt)

What does ‘impressions’ mean on YouTube?

YouTube impressions are the number of times your video thumbnails are shown to unique viewers. These thumbnail impressions can appear in a variety of locations on YouTube.

Most commonly, on a desktop computer or tablet, they appear as suggestions on the YouTube homepage, or on the right-hand side of the screen while you’re watching another video.

On a mobile device, they appear directly in-feed, in YouTube search results, and below the current video.

Channel creators can find their own impressions data using YouTube Creator Studio under an individual video’s Reach tab.

Where are youtube impressions

Are impressions the same as views on YouTube?

No, YouTube impressions are not the same as views. A YouTube view happens when a user clicks on a video thumbnail and watches that video for at least 30 seconds.

This is why the impressions metric is generally significantly higher than the views metric on YouTube. With the sole exception being external traffic sources – like search engines such as Google Search – and external websites that naturally pump up your YouTube views without the need for impressions.

Read Also: How many views should a new YouTuber get?

Are impressions on YouTube good?

Yes, impressions are a very good thing on YouTube. A high video impression rate means that YouTube is frequently recommending your video content, or at least your thumbnail images, to YouTube users – a.k.a your potential viewers.

What is a good impressions click-through rate?

A click-through rate – or CTR – is the ratio of how many times your video thumbnail impression resulted in an actual click.

It’s calculated using the formula below:

# of clicks / # of impressions x 100 = CTR

In short, high click-through rates tell YouTube that a number of people are loving your content. This means the platform is more likely to keep serving up those valuable impressions and recommending your YouTube videos to others.

Low click-through rates negatively impact YouTube’s algorithm and could cause YouTube to stop recommending your content altogether.

This is why having a great thumbnail is of crucial importance. You need those impressions to convert to clicks and views if you want YouTube to actively help your channel grow.

In The YouTube Formula book I recommended earlier, author and YouTuber Derral Eves says that Mr. Beast – the highest-earning YouTuber of all time – spends days and sometimes even weeks experimenting and user-testing various custom thumbnails before posting a new video to his channel. He also says that Mr. Beast has been known to swap out thumbnails if he feels that they could perform better after the initial upload.

So don’t be afraid to experiment, research, and reiterate until you get it right.

But what is a good CTR?

According to Google Support, half of all the channels on YouTube have a 2-10% CTR.

However, something tells me elite content creators like the Mr. Beasts and Mark Robers of the world could be seeing CTRs as high as 20%.

My current CTR, according to YouTube analytics at the time of this writing, is hovering around 5%. But I know I can improve that metric. So I’ve made it a personal challenge to compete with myself.

To find your channel’s CTR, log in to YouTube Studio and click on YouTube Channel Analytics.

How do you get impressions on YouTube?

Every time you post new content on YouTube, the platform will begin serving impressions to potential viewers. However, the number of impressions will vary drastically based on the previously mentioned CTR.

As a general rule of thumb, the higher the CTR – and the wider the target audience your content tends to attract – the more impressions you will receive.

Narrow audiences, and bad CTRs, will result in fewer impressions.

Looking for some ways to improve those CTRs? Try the following tips and tricks:

  • Identify and target a broad audience
  • Create irresistible, eye-catching thumbnails
  • Using keywords in your titles
  • Produce quality content that keeps viewers engaged the subscribers rolling in

Are you a new or established YouTuber? Share your thoughts in the comments below and don’t forget to connect with me on social media.

Photo of author


Morgan Overholt

Morgan has almost 20 years of professional experience in graphic design and a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science. Her successful freelance business has been featured in articles that have appeared on Upwork.com, Refinery29 and Business Insider Prime.

1 thought on “What Does Impressions Mean on YouTube? Are They the Same as Views?”

  1. Thank you for this interesting and informative article. However, It seems to be aimed not at beginners, but at those who already understand exactly what YouTube impressions are and how a YouTuber creates and uses them. For example, what is the connection between Thumbnails and impressions? How do I create my own Thumbnails? Where and how do I publish them? Do I create just one? Or do I need to create separate ones for each of my published uploads? Should the thumbnails show details of specific uploads, such as stills from movies or a copies of film posters? Or should it be a single design which relates to my channel, with every Thumbnail being identical? Explaining “Impressions” and “Impression click-through rates” are of no help to those people who don’t yet understand the basic principles behind these in the first place. The best description I can think of which adequately describes and emphasises my point, is to say that its rather like explaining the “offside rule” in soccer to someone who has yet to learn that soccer is a ball-game and a sport!
    First things first, as they say. You’ll no doubt be surprised – perhaps incredulous – to learn that I was a ‘hobbyist’ software author (1983-1992) during which time I had my work published in numerous PD compilation releases, as well as making regular contributions to popular magazines of the time, such as Acorn User, Sinclair User, Amstrad Action and others; my contributions usually consisted of short, but effective, “hand-assembled” machine-code routines, which allowed gamers to easily reconfigure their favourite games to their own designs by simply typing in a few lines of code………I mention these things in the hope that you’ll not consider me as an old fool with no computer knowledge! I certainly know what’s going on within the low-level areas of computers – but I need your help with the these basics! After all, decades have now gone by since I was on top of the game, so to speak, and age and illness have left me struggling. Kindest regards, friends.

Leave a Reply