During the first years of Youtube, thumbnails were actually frame snapshots from the video itself. Nothing special about them, not even something that leads you to what you are about to watch.
Few years later, though, custom thumbnails have become an essential part of Youtubers. In fact, good thumbnails can determine the success or failure of a video.
The thumbnail should give a heads up on what you are about to watch and give emphasis to the core meaning of the video. It should be bright and colorful and in some cases include some text.
Of course using a good thumbnail is a double-edge sword. If you don’t show the viewer what was represented in your thumbnail (and title) you will soon loose credibility. If a channel continues doing this in the long run, they will basically kill their own channel.
In our case study we will examine a video that was uploaded in 2014. It’s a compilation of funny clips from a popular movie. The video did not have a specially made thumbnail and was not promoted at all. You can see that it it was gradually becoming more popular but nothing too extravagant. Below you are seeing the video’s analytics since it was uploaded until the days before the addition of a thumbnail.
Just a few days ago, we decided to create a good thumbnail for this video, because why not? The thumbnail was uploaded on the 30th of August. See below how the views exploded since we uploaded the thumbnail.
The video went from 10-15k daily views on average to have as much as 113k in one day! Remember, the only thing that we changed was the thumbnail.
You can even see in the long run, how extraordinary the spike is on the graph of daily views, due to one simple action. See below the total daily views of the entire 2019. It’s exciting to imagine what would have happened if this video had this thumbnail from the very first day that it was uploaded.
Thumbnails are extremely important as you can see from a real-life example. But remember to use them wisely and keep them on subject. Don’t promise the viewer something that they are not going to see.