What is In A Thumbnail ( And Why It Matter)

Do you know what is in a video thumbnail?

There’s an old saying that tells us we should never judge a book by its cover. But at least regarding videos on the Internet, that’s what we do.

Only instead of book covers to go off of, we have video thumbnails–those single images that are made to distill everything about your video. It goes down to an experience that is over in a fraction of a second.

Even the best video thumbnails may sometimes seem like they’re randomly selected. However, the truth is they’re not. They’re often the product of a great deal of thought, care, and (most importantly) a next-level understanding of who you’re trying to reach and how you need to contact them.

So what is in a thumbnail? As it turns out, quite a bit – but making the most out of this small-yet-crucial opportunity that you have to bring your videos to a whole new audience is luckily easier than you think.

Related Post: How to Use Graphic Design to Appeal to Customers

Why Thumbnails Matter

Studies have shown that most people form a first impression of something in literal fractions of a second. Likewise, the human is visual learners–they always have been, they still will be. These two things tell us something significant about video content marketing in particular.

Taken together, they prove that your thumbnails are more critical than nearly every other aspect of your video–at least initially. Even if you have a title that you spent hours on, one that is specifically designed to attract as much attention as possible, people will still give more weight to that thumbnail image. It’s just a fact of life.

A compelling thumbnail will make your video more likely to get clicked on and viewed. Even if someone liked your video after watching it, the thumbnail would play a huge role in his decision to share it with friends ultimately. It helps make your video content go viral.

It needs to be enticing–something that draws people inward towards the experience you want them to have. And it needs to succinctly represent as much of that experience as possible at the same time.

To put it just, the easiest way to kill a great video before it has a chance to shine is with a boring thumbnail. Thankfully, a captivating video thumbnail has the opposite effect. So the next time you sit down with a thumbnail generator like Visme (which I founded), there are a few essential tips that you’ll want to bring with you.

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Crafting Better Thumbnails, One Step at a Time

First, you need to think about your thumbnails in almost a video agnostic way. To that end, give it the same attention you would like any other piece of video content. When you sit down with a timeline creator, you naturally think visually, right?

You’re selecting images (or in this case, facts and figures to express visually) that take complicated ideas and distill them down to their bare essentials. You’re giving people what they need to feel motivated to go on more extensive experience with you, and you’re doing it by giving them a taste of what is to come.

You need to start with the same point of view whenever you select a video thumbnail. It needs to “tease” the video it’s a part of, yes–but it also needs to almost stand on its own to a certain extent.

If someone only saw the thumbnail and then you asked them what they thought the video was about, they should be able to tell you in broad terms. If they can’t, you need to dive back in and find another image.

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What is In A Thumbnail ( And Why It Matter)

Likewise, as is right with any other piece of visual collateral, you need to think both about the message you’re trying to convey and who you’re trying to reach.

More on Crafting Better Thumbnails

If you’re using a service like Respona to connect with influential people in your industry, for example, the chances are high that you’re going to be tapping into an audience that is similar to your own.

But that audience isn’t yours. It is someone else’s, and because of that, there might be differences to what your audience wants.

Therefore, when selecting a thumbnail to represent a video designed for distribution via these types of means, think about the people you’re trying to reach and what video content they’re searching. Don’t allow yourself to fall into a pattern and think about each thumbnail as unique unto itself.

In the end, this is how you make sure you’re always selecting the right image for the right audience at precisely the right time.

About the Author

What is In A Thumbnail ( And Why It Matter)

Payman Taei is the founder of Visme, an easy-to-use online tool to create engaging presentations, infographics, and other forms of visual content. He is also the founder of HindSite Interactive, an award-winning Maryland digital agency specializing in website design, user experience, and web app development.


Moss Clement

Moss Clement is a freelance writer & blogger. Founder of Moss Media and content manager at Writers Per Hour. He is working closely with B2B marketers - helping​ several startups grow their online presence in the digital marketing space. By delivering highly informative content pieces​, he has assisted small & medium-size businesses to build their online reputation and connect them with their buyer persona. Connect with him on Twitter and LinkedIn.



Laura · March 25, 2019 at 2:36 pm

This is some great information. I did not know that these thumbnail videos are that important.


    Moss Clement · March 25, 2019 at 3:42 pm

    They are of vital benefits to your content marketing campaign. Thank you for stopping by.


samrat singh · February 4, 2019 at 8:46 pm

thanks for your responce sir..


    Moss Clement · February 7, 2019 at 8:04 am

    Hi Samrat,

    Sure, the best way to get noticed is to leave meaningful comments on the post you read. I happy to see you here and I’m so glad that you took steps to make a comment.
    Thank you for coming and adding to the discussion.


samrat singh · February 3, 2019 at 7:33 pm

very nice thank you so much sir..


    Moss Clement · February 4, 2019 at 8:09 pm

    You are welcome, Samrat. I’m happy that you like to post, and thank you for coming by.


Gaurav Kumar · February 1, 2019 at 4:44 pm

Hi Moss,

Video thumbnails play the major role in creating attraction. They are as important as the title of the videos. Youtube channels is the perfect example, where people use create visuals as thumbnails.



    Moss Clement · February 4, 2019 at 8:26 pm

    Hi Gaurav,

    I agree with you. For your videos to go viral, create thumbnails because it helps to attract more views and social media shares. And as you mentioned, thumbnails are as vital as your title. Using an irresistible headline For your thumbnail is ideal. However, this article was written by Payman, a guest contributor. Thanks so much, for your contribution.


Sajid Akhter · January 30, 2019 at 4:47 pm

Hi Payman,

Lovely bit of information. I must confess that I had little idea about video thumbnail before I landed on this post. I am glad I am here and learn new things.

Thanks for sharing, have a good day.


    Moss Clement · January 31, 2019 at 12:19 pm

    Hi Sajid.

    Payman’s article is one of a kind with a unique angle that I never thought about either. It is good to know that video thumbnails are performing better and must be utilized. I’m happy you like the post. Thank you, for coming and commenting.


Bikram Kalsi · January 30, 2019 at 11:27 am

Hey Payman,

Very nice post indeed, I was watching a video by Brian Dean and he explained they he gets his majority of traffic from the suggested video.
The only way he was able to achieve it is because of the awesome thumbnail for the video which was relevant to the users.

A great Thumbnail can increase your CTR.


    Moss Clement · January 31, 2019 at 12:29 pm

    Hi Bikram,

    Thumbnails are great for attracting clicks and views, hereby increasing traffic to your website. And Payman focused mainly on thumbnail-helping readers to see the need to create more thumbnail videos. Thanks a lot, for coming by and adding to the discussion.

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