Video Previews Are The NEW Animated GIFs

Video previews is a new term and some people find it confusing. In this post we will try to clarify the differences between a video preview and an animated GIF, and explain why at Vid.Watch, though we support both video and GIF formats, we highly recommend using only video previews.

A bit of history.

GIFs were originally developed as lossless image format for low-resolution, limited colorspace images. At the time, color screens were very limited in their abilities, and processors were not capable of playing back multimedia. Animation was added to GIFs to allow various images (frames) in the file to be painted with time delays, to create moving pictures – which usually meant simple animations rather than video content. Animated gifs can be set to play this sequence of frames multiple of times. It can define a smaller rectangle to be rescanned instead of the whole image, and browsers or other displays that do not support animated GIFs typically show only the first frame.

The size and color quality that result when converting videos to animated GIFs can vary significantly depending on the input video and the compression choices made by the converting software. A big factor reducing image quality in GIFs is the need to reduce the colorspace; some video frames suffer more than others when their colorspace is reduced. Moreover, GIF color palettes can be reused between frames, which further reduces the colorspace usable in encoding each frame, or replaced at the cost of increasing the file size. Converting video to animated GIF requires clever choices of when to replace the color palettes. Either way, a series of frame images that vary in their color table into a composite animation tends to yield larger files at lower quality; a video trailer that picks a variety of highlight frames from movie is one of the hardest use-cases for GIF size optimization.

A video preview is a short muted video clip that is automatically created to highlight the story of a the original video. A while ago it was common to create these short clips manually, but with the amount of video uploads websites need to maintain on a daily basis, it just doesn’t make sense.

When we started to plan and develop Vid.Watch, around two years ago, previews were not yet a common video experience as it is today, and animated GIFs were everywhere. On websites and social networks, in digital advertising, GIFs were used to promote video content and for marketing. The main reasons for their abundance were the simplicity of inserting animations in existing elements, and their near-universal support by devices and browsers. But today, video support has become ubiquitous, and dedicated preview players can easily be integrated to put them everywhere, making animated GIF an anachronism. .

Let’s talk numbers.

While a high-quality short clip of 3-6 seconds in AGIF weighs at least 2MB, MP4 or WEBM files with the same content weighs around 3%-6% of its animated GIF size all while maintaining higher visual quality than the animation. These days, when you’re aiming to promote multiple videos on your website, it would be a nuisance for your users (and for your CDN bill) to download and play multiple files, each weighing several megabytes.

Some examples.

Below you can see a 9-second video clip that was automatically generated by Vid.Watch from the Sony BRAVIA 4K HDR TV on Youtube. Our video clip weighs 182KB.

Now let’s look at the following high-quality animated gif that was converted from the short video clip above; Both have the same content and same length, however – the animated gif below weighs 2.9MB.

Vid.Watch's Preview as AGIF
Vid.Watch’s Preview as AGIF

Are you saying we should stop using animated GIFs?

Of course not! Animated gifs have their pros. Their near-universal support means they can be easily integrated through your marketing channels, they can be easily created and are supported by most of the platforms, applications and tools you’re probably using. They can even be played by most e-mail readers. But for digital video content in the web, the “NEW animated GIFs” – “video previews” are your way to better performance.

Still Confused?

If you’re still confused about whether you should be playing videos or displaying animated GIFs on your website; if you want to start playing automated or non-automated animated GIFs to promote your video content, or if you already do it manually and you have some questions about the differences between animated GIF, MP4 and WEBM, just email us at [email protected] and our team will be more than happy to help you.

AGIF vs video preview

Vid.Watch: The Top 10 Tips To Help You Choose The Right Video Preview Solution

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A video preview is a short video that gives an informative outline of a story’s contents. They are not like the trailers at the movies, or the ads on TV. Instead they are 3-30 seconds muted videos that deliver an improved video browsing experience, help users make decisions regarding what video to watch, improve video interaction and increase user acquisition, user engagement and user retention.

While tech giants like Google, Facebook Oath and Netflix are playing their own video previews, which were tested and developed for years and which defer in the video experience, previews’ length, quality and product’s goals – you need to make your own choices to choose the right solution for you.

Read Vid.Watch’s “Top 10 Tips” to make sure you choose the right preview solution.

1. What platforms does it support? What browser?

Some solutions support only specific operating systems, devices and browsers. Even Google Search is only supported by Chrome on mobiles. Make sure that the solution you’re considering is both a cross-platform and cross-browser solution.

2. Does it support low-end devices?

Users in many countries still use slower devices and you don’t want to miss them. Make sure the provider you’re choosing is capable of playing video previews on devices that have a lower performance but that will still provide a superior experience to your entire audience, without fail.

3. How much time does it take to generate new video previews?

To stay relevant and keep your users engaged, you must publish multiple videos each day. Your video previews should be available in minimal production time to maximize your performance. Make sure to choose a scalable solution that can process any amount of videos in the shortest time possible.

4. Is there a limit to the video’s size and length?

Most video preview solutions within the industry have limitations on the size and length of movies. Make sure to find a provider that supports your content.

5. Does it support the content genres you create/play?

Some video preview providers only support one genre of content. Make sure your video preview provider has the technology to generate superior video previews that fully promote, provide and enhance your content.

6. Does it maximize your performance? Significantly increase revenue?

Personalization is the key for maximizing your performance. Make sure your provider supports it. One size fits all works to some extent but when every increase counts, personalization will always bring the best results.

7. Is it a proven solution?

You don’t want to take chances and risk your website with a non-proven solution. Make sure to check that your provider has had happy and engaged customers for at least six months.

8. Every brand has its own voice

You put tons of effort on creating the right product with the right experience that represent your brand’s voice. Your video content is unique, your users are unique and your video previews should deliver the same experience. Be sure that your video previews provider is capable of delivering a tailored experience that will work for you.

9. Mouseover or autoplay?

You can use video previews to improve your video browsing and you can use them to promote specific videos by auto playing them. Some browsers may not allow you to auto-play videos. Make sure your video previews provider delivers a video previews player that supports the method you wish to use, that can efficiently play the number of videos you need to play, all the while providing a non-intrusive, resource-efficient video experience.

10. What do you need to do in order to test the solution?

Experimenting with a new solution requires your team’s attention and a budget. Multiple companies will reach out to you and so you need to choose what to bet on. Make sure to check what is required of you to valuate the solution. Does it require integration, or is it simply one line to add? How many hours will be required from your DEV team? Do you need to provide an A/B testing feature or does the solution come pre-equipped?

Vid.Watch (2015) helps publishers, marketing agencies and video content providers to maximize their video strategy on any channel, platform and device by automatically generating personalized scaled video previews.

Vid.Watch: 5 major reasons to use video previews as part of your online strategy

Video is a vital part of any successful digital, mobile and social network strategy. 2017 has undoubtedly been a year where video previews have proved their value through enhancing the user video browsing experience, increasing user engagement and maximizing revenues.

A video preview is a short three-to-thirty seconds’ outline of the videos’ contents, encourages users to watch it and helps them make a decision as to if they will play the full version. Video previews are automatically created and played and thus provide an improved digital, social and mobile experience. Previews are muted and are generated to help reach KPI targets in user take up, engagement and retention.

This is why Vid.Watch has listed the following five major reasons and how playing previews will positively contribute to your overall strategy.

1. Improve your user acquisition performance

With ever increasing amounts of online distraction it’s difficult to get a viewer’s attention. Static thumbnails go unnoticed and even when they are clicked, an image with a title doesn’t say much about the content you’re trying to promote; Some viewers bounce after they discover they clicked a video they didn’t expect to watch; Others who could be easily converted to loyal users, are not engaged to click by the static experience. This is why you need to make a significant effort in choosing the right combination of a title and image that will bring new users to your website and manually create multiple video teasers for each marketing channel you are working with.
Playing previews as part of your marketing strategy — as part of your marketing emails, content discovery platforms, and more, will help you acquire more users. By creating the right video experience for every marketing method and channel you use, relevant viewers will take notice and a potentially become loyal audience, and thus regular revenue, will frequent your site.

2. Improve your user engagement performance

Video ads generate the highest revenues; however, on average a user only watches one video per session. Playing video previews dramatically increases your click-through-rates, helps your users choose what to watch (and thus securing their engagement and willingness to watch ads).
Playing high-quality video previews which are tailored to your brand and content, created in scale, and efficiently-played on your website will increase your click-through-rates dramatically, increase your session depth rates and the overall number of watched content.

3. Improve your users retention performance

Playing personalized video previews to promote popular videos on your website — or in subscription e-mails — generates a fuller more interactive experience, helps your users choose what to watch and therefore lowers their frustration after making poor decisions that used to be based on the content of a static thumbnail. By giving your users value, and helping them find the content they love — you’re establishing a loyal audience that will stay longer, watch more and come back again and again.

4. Improve your video monetization strategy

Adding previews on your website creates a new dimension for ads that was never there before. Your users get used to this new video browsing experience and you can enhance it to increase your revenues by replacing some of your video previews with promoted previews or short-ads. Not only do you increase your profits by promoting your popular content, you also increase profits by promoting external paid for video content. These days, when six-second ads have become a standard and browser companies start to block auto-playing video ads with audio, it’s the right time to start using muted video previews and start making more profits!

5. Improve your mobile strategy

Increasingly more users experience your website via mobile devices. Engaging users with mobile video content is even more challenging than on PCs — video thumbnails are very small, users are pickier in their choices, and are very concerned about wasting their battery and data allowance on a video they didn’t expect to watch.
Helping them make the right video decisions, in a non-intrusive, battery efficient way, that works on every mobile device and browser, is just what your site needs to increase the number of video views via mobile users.

Vid.Watch (2015) helps publishers and marketing agencies to maximize their video strategy on any channel, platform and device by automatically generating personalized scaled video previews.

5-reasons-to-use-video-previews.png

How To Add Video Previews On My Website?

If you heard of Vid.Watch before, you probably already know how useful Vid.Watch is with dynamically generating superior animated previews, transforming them to their required dimensions and delivering them through a fast CDN.

But what about playing animated previews instead of static thumbnails on your web application? From small to large thumbnails, on any browser and any device, wether you’d like to play them on mouseover or simply autoplay them, they should be generated, delivered and played efficiently, offloading their processing and delivery from your servers and improving your website’s performance.

You can always do it yourself – hire a team of video experts to manually create video previews to any video you upload to your site, access them through a CDN and make sure to update these video previews when they change. You can then update your website and native apps code to autoplay them or play them on mouseover; Your manually-created video previews will be played, but the experience won’t be smooth, engaging and efficient; Without using a dedicated video preview player, low end devices may not be able to play your animated previews and other will get an intensive resource consuming experience.

To maximize your user engagement, you can develop a platform that will generate multiple superior video previews per video and user, programmatically learn which animated preview maximizes user engagement of each user and develop your own smart algorithms, so it will never stop improving.

Or – you can let Vid.Watch do it. Automatically.

In this post we want to introduce how to add Vid.Watch previews to your website. Not only you get personalized video previews that are automatically generated in no time, it also simplifies and streamlines the process of uploading video previews to the cloud and playing them through a CDN.

If you haven’t done so already – register on our website and you’ll get one line of JS to add to your website.

How is this done? First, sign up with your work email and website address.
Our team will then contact you by email and ask further questions in order to make sure you’ll get the user experience you’ve been dreaming of.
getting started


In 24 hours, you’ll get an email with one line of JavaScript, tailored to your website.
The JS line will be similar to the following line:

<script 
src="//animatedpreviews.vid.watch/{company_id}">


Once you add it to your website code, your website starts playing video previews based on your requests and the magic starts :-).

Vid.Watch AI-powered animated previews solutions provide a huge range of features and offers you maximal flexibility to boost your website’s performance. Contact us for special requests, additional information and for any question at [email protected].

Can I Also Display Video Previews On My Website?

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Displaying video previews has become a world standard in 2017. Youtube tested this functionality for a year and a half, Oath worked for two years till they started implementing them on their products, and Netflix launched their video previews on 2016 and they keep improving their technology. It’s great for all these tech giants but what about you?

Providing fully programmatically video previews, that are engaging and professional and deliver the right message and experience for any brand, video, genre, user, video quality etc. isn’t a trivial task.

As a software developer you may think, what’s the hassle? I’ll take the first x-seconds or randomly choose some scenes and it will somehow work out. Once you start playing with huge amount of videos, only then you understand that making it really work, automatically, requires years of knowledge and expertise in this domain only. And even then, our world keeps changing, users keep changing – things that engage your users today won’t necessarily engage them tomorrow – each website has its own voice, users are different, videos are different – in content, quality and multiple other parameters. One size fits all just doesn’t work in this case.

It’s not only the depth of understanding that you need to have in video technologies, there’s an expertise you need to gain on what works and what doesn’t for video previews – What works for genre A or B? How to make sure you create a non-intrusive experience which increases user experience and maximizes your user engagement from video content? What makes user X engaged and how user Y reacts to the same experience? How to concurrently play multiple videos efficiently?  How to make sure your website gets the user experience that fits your brand and product?

We have a long history of developing scalable video, user profiling and AI based products – for mobile and web. In fact, our main line of business is to help startups, companies, websites and mobile apps maximize their user engagement from video content. And we use our artificial intelligence algorithms to generate and play superior video previews that will maximize your performance.

In recent years we’ve built substantial infrastructures to deliver top notch video, AI and user personalization platforms. At Vid.Watch, we’ve taken this expertise to build an AI platform that maximizes user engagement from video content, while taking into account users data, video content, context and additional parameters – we call it “Vid.Watch Maximize”.

What does it do?

Vid.Watch is a SaaS that takes the hassle out of generating and playing video previews that maximize your user engagement from video content.

Videos on your website, videos on your mobile apps. Vid.Watch takes care of your entire video previews management, generation and playing pipeline, while programmatically learning what works for you and what doesn’t and makes decisions that maximize your user engagement. Wether your users are browsing from mobile or desktop. Easily video previews generation without installing any complex software. Smart autoplay and mouseover on mobile apps, mobile web and desktop – cross platform and cross browser. Integrate Facebook or Twitter to bring users back to your website. Get your video previews delivered from fast CDNs, and much more. Simply put – if it’s video previews related, let Vid.Watch do it.

We love developing algorithms and seeing our customers (and their users) enjoying our video previews performance. We have a lot we want to tell you about Vid.Watch Maximize, about our ideas, plans and upcoming features. More than that – we want to hear your thoughts, your input, your unique video previews requirements. So bookmark this page, subscribe to our blog and come visit us. Drop us a line and tell us how Vid.Watch can help you.

We hope to hear from you soon!