Written by Emily Polner

As the second-most visited site on the web boasting 1 billion hours worth of content watched per day, YouTube is a video behemoth. If used correctly and effectively, a single YouTube video can give brands massive exposure in the form of thousands of engaged eyes. Hiring a YouTuber for a sponsored video requires looking beyond subscriber amounts and view counts. Here is a checklist of key metrics and things to consider when calculating how much to pay YouTubers as a brand.

Engagement and audience sentiment

When scouting for YouTubers, examine the sentiment surrounding the engagement they receive. YouTube is unique in that users can both “like” and “dislike” videos. Pay close attention to the like-to-dislike ratios, comments-to-views ratios, as well as what kinds of comments viewers are leaving. If their audience’s sentiment is overwhelmingly positive and is coupled with a high amount of engagement, a YouTuber can justify a higher quote.

Watch time

Watch time refers to the number of minutes users spend watching a YouTuber’s content. Views, on the other hand, are garnered when a video is watched for at least 30 seconds. Once a viewer makes it past the 30-second mark, YouTube will count that as a view, even if the viewer stops watching right then and there. Watch time is a stronger indicator of how tuned in a YouTuber’s audience really is. The more minutes they’ve racked up, the more value they’ll bring to any sponsored campaign.


The average person’s attention span is only 8 seconds and it’s only getting shorter. The longer a YouTuber can hold someone’s attention, the more value they bring to brands. YouTube Analytics shows two types of retention:

  • Absolute Audience Retention: This pinpoints the most-watched parts of a given video. You can identify patterns in how the audience views a video, for example: do they skip over the intro? Do they drop off at the end? For a sponsored video, it’s important to make sure that the product/service is mentioned during one of the most-engaged-with time frames of the video.
  • Relative Audience Retention: Compares videos of similar length to see whether or not the YouTuber’s videos have above, below, or average retention.

High retention rates are not easy to cultivate and, much like watch time, indicate that a YouTuber’s videos are super engaging to their audience. The higher the retention rates, the higher the price for a sponsored video.

Dedicated vs. Non-Dedicated

Non-dedicated videos are significantly less expensive than dedicated ones, no matter the YouTuber. In a non-dedicated video, YouTubers mention a product/service without making it the sole focus of the video. Brands like HelloFresh and SeatGeek have partnered with some of the biggest creators on YouTube on non-dedicated campaigns. In a dedicated video, the YouTuber produces an entire video about the sponsored brand.


Video production and editing can take a substantial amount of time, so be sure to keep this in mind when hiring a YouTuber. For a turnaround time of one week or less, a YouTuber may charge brands a rush fee, adding to the total cost of the sponsored video.

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