The Importance of Custom Thumbnails on YouTube

Creating quality content is only the first step of making your YouTube channel a success. Your audience will never experience your content if you aren’t intentional about how you’re initially presenting that content. 

YouTube has said that 90% of the best-performing videos on their platform have custom thumbnails. If you’re looking to build your audience and strengthen your engagement, a custom thumbnail is a great place to begin.

What is a Video Thumbnail?

Video thumbnails on YouTube are similar to book covers and movie billboards. They provide your potential audience with basic information about your brand and an idea of what to expect from your content. 

A video thumbnail is a still image that represents your video. It’s the first thing that viewers see when they come across your video on YouTube, Google, or Facebook. Your thumbnail plays a vital role in whether or not someone decides to watch your video. It’s essentially a first-impression of your content!

A carefully created thumbnail will accomplish more than simply enticing people to click on your video. A successful thumbnail will also do the following:

  • Provide context for your brand and the topic/ tone of the video
  • Retain viewers longer while they’re watching the video or interacting with your channel/ profile
  • Allows viewers to determine if your video aligns with the goal they’re hoping to achieve 
  • Encourages viewers to share the video on their social networks

 When done right, a video thumbnail can make an impact that stems beyond YouTube. Google search results often show more than just text. If your video appears in someone’s search results, a successful thumbnail will allow your content to stand out among other recommendations and you’ll be getting clicks directly from Google’s search results. 

The Role of Video Thumbnails

Video thumbnails play a huge part in helping YouTube determine how to rank your video. However, it’s important to note that a video thumbnail alone is not what determines how your video is ranked. YouTube determines rankings based on how many times your video is clicked and what your viewers do once they start watching your video as well. 

YouTube can decide to introduce your video to potential viewers in a few ways:

  • YouTube’s search ranking system is what creates the results that are shown when someone uses YouTube’s search bar.
  • YouTube’s video recommendation system is what determines which videos are listed as recommendations for someone already watching a video.
  • YouTube’s homepage for logged-in users will show users recommended videos when they first open YouTube.

Whether or not your video appears in any of these places is decided by how the potential viewer has interacted with your videos (if at all) as well as how others have interacted with your videos.

The Benefits of Custom Thumbnails

Now that we’ve established how important thumbnails are for appearing in search results, generating video traffic, and promoting your channel page, it’s time to talk about how a custom thumbnail will work to promote your channel even further. 

Custom thumbnails are incredibly effective in optimizing and attracting views on YouTube. A custom thumbnail should work to grab people’s attention while remaining informative and representative of what the video is about.

Custom thumbnails help your channel present a polished look as they present a selected scene that has been tweaked to bring out it’s best. They are also optimized to give viewers the information they’re looking for, which allows them to effectively decide whether or not they want to watch your videos. 

But above all, custom thumbnails set you apart from the crowd. And the more you can establish the individual value that your channel brings to its viewers, the better off you’ll be in the long run.

Don’t hesitate to track and monitor the changes in your viewership after using custom thumbnails. By using the Viewership Graph and Discovery Information available on the Insight page, you’ll be able to track any increases in viewership due to your custom thumbnail attracting more clicks. 

Building Brand Awareness with Custom Thumbnails

Brand consistency results in an average revenue increase of 23%, which is why building brand awareness isn’t just useful for being known for what you do, it’s also proven to be quite profitable. 

You can effectively build brand consistency with custom video thumbnails by using specific colors, styles, logos, and overlays to establish an aesthetic that people associate with your brand. Establishing a consistent style will allow people that have become familiar with your brand to recognize your video thumbnails on a crowded screen. They’ll know the content is yours before they even see your name. 

Creating a custom and engaging thumbnail will make all the difference in introducing your brand to new viewers and establishing a level of consistency with your current ones. As we mentioned before, you’ve got great content to share but it’s important to be intentional in how you’re introducing it. 

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