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What makes a popular YouTube video?

Since Google bought Youtube in 2006, it has grown to become the webs second largest search engine, only second to it’s parent site Google. This highlights the significance of video to organisations and demonstrates how powerful a tool it can be with regards to marketing and sales. Surveys have shown that companies who incorporate video into their site are 53% more likely to be picked up by Google.

But what is it that makes a successful video campaign? A study has recently been conducted into the characteristics of Youtube’s most popular videos and what they all have in common, as well as highlighting certain factors that make them popular.

The results, taken from 286 videos across the top 100 channels displayed that News/Commentary videos were the most popular, followed by comedy and thirdly Fashion/Beauty videos.

Another interesting characteristic was that the average length of the most popular videos ran at 6:29, with 42% of the videos containing an introduction, which had an average length of 3 seconds.

With regards to editing and the quality of production on the video, it really depends on the genre. Naturally with regards to Gaming videos which average 3.39 cuts per minute, there will be fewer cuts per minute as the producer will want to display game footage. But Fashion videos, which will want to create viewer engagement and keep the tempo fast paced with an average of 14.68 cuts per minute

What’s apparent in the results, is that the creators have clearly thought about how to keep their viewers engaged, and due to the fact they are taken from the top 100 most popular channels – these aren’t your usual ‘viral’ videos, that have been filmed on an iPhone.   The importance of creating a relationship with the audience is also an important factor, as this will encourage users to return to the channel, as well as having clear calls to action and encouraging users to share, like and comment.


Cover image courtesy of Esther Vargas,

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