Why video thumbnail previews  are a must in every website with video content

 Let’s flashback to April 23rd, 2005 real quick. What does this date tell you? Maybe it’s someone’s birthday, wedding day, the first paycheck day, or just another number on a calendar. I know at least one person who looked forward to this day for a long time – Jawed Karim, the co-founder of YouTube. You probably guessed it, the first ever video was posted on YouTube on April 23rd, 2005. Even though videos have been around way before that, YouTube brought them all to a whole new level: from “Me at the Zoo” to Gangnam Style and countless tutorials. Back to our days, currently, we all watch our fair share of videos on a daily basis: commercials, clips on Facebook, videos on Snapchat and Instagram, and so on and so forth. How do we feel about them?

Generally speaking, great! Videos are a combination of our 2 senses – vision and hearing, so it’s only logical that they are rather impressive. Video pitches get more attention because, to some degree, they depict real face-to-face communication, video ads cost more, and you never see a post commercial on TV channels. Politicians go above and beyond with their campaign videos, trying to fit as much content as possible.

The truth is, videos are the most convenient tool to show everything in one place. You can have texts, visuals, and audio condensed in one file. For instance, you own a restaurant and want to have a cool ad. You have a few options. Let’s post a banner on Facebook or Instagram – not the best idea. You can’t post a picture that shows all 4 corners. How about writing a top-notch article about it, it’ll be funny, compelling, it’ll describe all the features and services that you have, we can include some testimonials too. To be fair, it does sound good but it physically doesn’t show your restaurant, and you can’t add too many photos. You could broadcast it; some people remember the best when they hear the content. Great! You can hire a specialist who reads well and with changing tones and adding emotions. But then again, no visuals and you can’t just target those whose auditory memory is good.

You’re stuck in the brainstorm room when a genius comes in and says, “Hey, let’s shoot a video!” Brilliant, smart, fantastic! You can shoot the restaurant completely, have a nice voice over and add texts like the address, phone number or some general highlights. Perfect, now you can share it on all social media platforms and get those clicks. As a matter of fact, 4x as many consumers would rather watch a video than read about a product. But wait! How can you be sure that users will click on your video?

Ladies and gentlemen meet “Thumbnails,” your one and only solution (or so we thought) to the not-clicking problem. Take the example of YouTube videos; every single one has a photo on it that reminds us of a banner, which contains a brief visualization of what the video is about. Some people actually use a scene from the video as a thumbnail with some text, and it seems to work better than a totally different photo.

For the most part, thumbnails clearly indicate what the video is about, but sometimes they are just colorful, funny, intriguing and appealing enough to make you click on it. It’s been a while and viewers came to the realization that thumbnails can be deceptive. So, a question arises – how can you convince them to watch your amazing video? That’s exactly what we will be discussing here, I can’t resist the temptation of revealing the answer, so here it goes- video previews.

The video user experience

Had you been on YouTube recently, you would have noticed that some of the videos activate when you hover the mouse over them. You can see a little preview without clicking on it, an actual part of that very video. Well, hello YouTube, how come we didn’t have that a long time ago. To some people, hovering effects just look new and cool but little do they know that it’s the secret key to more views. Those YouTube previews are like the meta tags of videos. If you know a little something about SEO, the latter rang a bell to you, if no then it’ll start making sense to you in a moment.

Meta tags are the short descriptions of articles that appear under your search on Google, Bing, Yahoo, online magazines and so on. It’s easier to explain with Google, so, let’s go with that one. Say you search, “how to make a thumbnail,” you’ll see a number of articles that have titles, and under it, you’ll see a brief summary of the article with highlighted keywords. You read it, and if that’s what you’re looking for, then you click on it and proceed to read the rest of it.

SEO blogs unanimously claim that meta tags should be unique, have a clear call-to-action text, be short, on point and, of course, match the content of the article. Did we have the same with videos? Before the video highlights came around, we had only thumbnails that only the videographer had control over and the descriptions or captions, which you could see only if you clicked on the video. This brings us to our point, video thumbnail previews (VTP) are revolutionary because they will change the click through rates of videos both on YouTube,on social media platforms, and every other place on the Internet with video content. Video highlights are a game changer, and you can use them to your advantage. If with thumbnails you had to make an effort to come up with a fantastic design that presents the essence of your video and just hope that the viewers will click on it, with video thumbnail previews, it’s a whole different story. Imagine what miracles an actual part of the video can work. Meta tags increase the readability of the article, and preview thumbnails do the same for a video. Your number 1 task here is to gain a certain amount of views and promote your product, service or the video itself. Video thumbnail previews  allow you to do this better than any other tool.

Growing CTR and user engagement

People love videos. They love them so much that according to statistics, the word “video” in an email subject line boosts open rates by 19% and click through rates by 65%. You can add up to this percentage with video highlights. Why are preview thumbnails so revolutionary? What do they do besides bringing a fresh breath to YouTube? There are a couple of points that make video previews worth the try:

  • More targeted viewers
  • Control over the video
  • Clear expectation
  • Willingness to watch until the end
  • Avoid clickbait

Let’s go a little deeper into each point. First of all, you should keep in mind that if your video is not for entertainment but follows a particular goal, then you don’t need just views, you need converting ones. Thanks to VTP, the viewer knows at the very beginning what the video is about, and if he is truly interested in it, then you will end up with a prospective converting click. Secondly, the hovering effect gives some sort of control to users just like the websites with mouse-over effects. User experience is not of a big importance with videos because the viewer has one action: just click and watch and as long as the quality and the speed of the Internet are good, he’ll be fine. Yet, everyone appreciates a little control and highlights serve that exact purpose.

The third advantage of video thumbnail previews  is having clear-cut expectations. This point is very much interlinked with our first point. If you’re not chasing after the number of views but the quality, then you’ll need viewers who understand the content of the video through the highlights. With preview, you increase the chance of viewers sticking until the very end and putting up with the ads along the way. You didn’t spare an effort to create a wonderful piece of videography, and you want your viewers to watch it until the very last nanosecond to grasp the whole message. Lastly, video preview thumbnail decreases the chance of clickbait. Thumbnails can be misleading because they can contain any image and text, regardless whether or not they are related to the video. On the contrary, preview thumbnails are cut from the video itself, which means there is no fraud, whatsoever.

The benefits of video thumbnail previews  are not a subject to doubt, the excitement is overload, and you want to implement them right now. Where do you start from? You should kick off your preview adventures with VidWatch. Create video teasers, which are both web and mobile friendly. Furthermore, with VidWatch you can get constant performance reports, thus being able to test various versions of the highlights. That’s the dream, isn’t it? Don’t wait any longer, put video previews to use and enjoy the results. VidWatch will assist you along the way.