Video Thumbnails are small masterpieces of crystal-clear thinking


Video thumbnails Small masterpieces of crystal-clear thinking Video thumbnails Small masterpieces of crystal-clear thinking

After a workshop discussion with Mr. YouTube I was happy and simultaneously disenchanted. Of course, someone who can talk to giants will always feel small and big at the same time. I felt my fight against automatically generated miniature images was justified. And I was disenchanted when I thought of reality.

Video thumbnails are still images with great effect. They drive the user with a visual impulse to click on a video. Once as small as stamps, today their pixel size can easily keep pace with HD videos. Video platforms independently generate these symbolic images during the upload from the video content.

During the upload a selection of images is automatically generated. Optionally, the user of the channel can upload his/her own image files to the video.

The importance of video thumbnails

YouTube will shortly demonstrate the outstanding importance of these thumbnails itself. The company blocks them as a penalty. When a person does not abide by the policies of the video platform for their video channel, he/she shall lose the right to provide their video with self-designed video thumbnails. For good. And irrevocably.

The importance of key stimuli in the Internet will not be substantiated any further here. Users decide if they will even click on a video based on the image preview. Social Media Managers can sing a song about that. In light of this, everything else falls into place (similar when dealing with tags and metadata) on its own. One would think so. Because whoever puts in a huge effort to create a video will do everything for it to be seen.
Automatically generated thumbnails are a taboo for sponsored films.Automatically generated snapshots are actually still dominating the video channels of many customers. Their significance is comparable to the precision of a shotgun. This defect can only be increased when videos are still cluttering on selected webpages and of which the miniature images are not recognizable as placeholders. The image content of the thumbnail determines why a user will click on content. How a user should recognize a web video not marked as such, only chance can tell.

Checklist for perfect video thumbnails

Video thumbnails have to be precisely thought through, clearly conceived and carried out excellently. And clear in what they wish to express. In the best case they will have the attraction of a film poster. 6 points must be stringently considered for this purpose. The image content of a perfect thumbnail

  1. raises expectations, but
  2. without giving any wrong promises,
  3. reflects the brand or product identity of the sender,
  4. builds confidence on added value for the user,
  5. is recognizable as a placeholder, behind which a video is hiding (keyword: play button),
  6. transports its messages in all size formats (keyword: smartphone, tablet, flatscreen)

If a sponsored film is to be made accessible on the web or via tablets and smartphones, suitable key images should be given consideration by all participants already after the release of the screenplay.


The production costs for thumbnails in parallel with the production amount to around 0.04% of the average production costs of a video, thanks to digital image processing technology. The effect is then at least a hundred times greater. There is no excuse why video thumbnails can not be small masterpieces of crystal-clear thinking!

As (nearly) always in motion picture communication and visual storytelling, the same applies to designing video thumbnails: Competence costs less than incompetence.

About Videothink Team
Articles by the Videothink team are collaboratively-written by more than one member of the videothink publishing team.

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