Why are video thumbnails so important


We’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but with video thumbnails, that is exactly what most of us do. Your video thumbnail is the shop-window to your video and it’s got to look good if you want your potential viewers, to become actual viewers.

If you’ve spent thousands of pounds creating your new lovely film, you need to take the time to create the right thumbnail that’s going to make sure it’s seen by as many people as possible. Here are some tips to make sure that your potential viewers press ‘play’.

Customise your thumbnail

All video platforms will automatically generate a thumbnail once you’ve uploaded your video to their platform. The image can be perfect, OR may have captured your CEO with their mouth open, halfway through a word, looking somewhat less than CEOesque! Your platform should let you upload a custom thumbnail, so choosing a strong impactful image will drive the viewer to click and watch.

Mellow yellow

Bright and contrasting colours have the power to attract your attention and make your image really pop, with the colour yellow proving to be the most successful background colour in click-through trials. Apparently, yellow causes more receptors to trigger in our eyes and makes us more likely to take action.

Use text to provide context

If you’ve chosen the right image then text is not always necessary. However, sometimes a few well-chosen words can provide context as to what the viewer is about to see. If you add text, then don’t use more than 5 or 6 words and consider how those words are going to look on smaller mobile screens.

‘Haven’t they got a lovely face’

According to the mighty YouTube, close-up images of faces work best at attracting viewers’ attention. This is because we are psychologically drawn to look at peoples’ faces and detect eye contact. A face looking directly at the camera has tested best, particularly if the face is displaying some form of emotion.

Be consistent with your brand

You will brand your other marketing collateral, so make sure your video thumbnails are also branded. Branding will confirm to viewers that they are watching an ‘official’ company video, giving it more gravity and amplifying your brand recognition. While your thumbnails should have consistent branding, make sure each thumbnail looks slightly different to the next so viewers don’t think they’ve already seen it. In one campaign, Wasp found that by simply adding a logo to their existing videos, they doubled their number of views.

Know your platform

It’s important to know your platform and modify your thumbnails accordingly. Different platforms have different specifications and regulations. With the free platforms, they will have their own branding, overlays and adverts, so you need to consider how this will impact your own design.

A/B test it

While the above are good tips, there is no substitute for A/B testing your thumbnails in real campaigns.

Remember, the humble thumbnail can transform the performance of your video marketing campaigns - invest the time into getting your thumbnails right for your brand.


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