How to Increase Video Play Rate

December 22, 2022

Topic tags

Chris Lavigne


If you want more people to watch your video, it’s time to start thinking of ways you can increase your play rate!

Play rate is the percentage of folks who visited your page and clicked “play” on your video.

We looked at thousands of videos with the highest play rates across the Wistia platform to learn what folks are doing to get more people to press that play button. And we’re excited to share those findings with you!

Dive into this post to learn the top three things you can do to help increase video play rate.

Create a custom thumbnail

One thing you can do is create a custom thumbnail for your video. Simply keeping the default still frame may not boost your video views much. Remember: your video’s thumbnail is like a billboard for your content. The higher the quality of the preview image, the more likely a potential viewer will click!

Generally, we found that a custom video thumbnail garnered a higher play rate compared with a randomly selected frame from your video. This is also a best practice for YouTube videos and videos on social media!

“Your video’s thumbnail is like a billboard for your content.”

Want some of our tips for creating the best video thumbnail? Here’s what we recommend:

  • A mid-profile shot of a person
  • Action shots
  • Product close-ups
  • Animations or graphics

If you have some design help, using multiple stills from your video can provide extra context to what the viewer is about to see. You can also add text that describes your video’s content.

With Wistia, you can even turn a section of your video into a looping thumbnail. You’ve got to see it for yourself!

Change the video embed location and size

Another way you can bump up your video playback is by adjusting the video embed location and size. Whether your video is on a blog post, a homepage, or a product page, the size of your video thumbnail and where you place the video player on the page can impact how effectively it catches people’s attention.

As a general rule, the further down the page, the lower the play rate. If you want to raise your play rate, try moving your video to the top!

“You’ll get the most plays with videos prominently displayed above the fold.”

And while you’re deciding where to embed your video, consider the embed size. Larger video embeds with more prominent player controls tend to get clicked on more frequently. So design wisely!

Customize the embedded video player

The third thing you can do is customize your embedded video player.

Making the actual video player more enticing can increase the number of times a viewer clicks on your video. Fortunately, Wistia provides a ton of player customization options for you!

Here are just a few examples of what you can do:

  • Choose a bold, high-contrast color for your player
  • Add custom branding
  • Experiment with turning some player controls on or off

The world is your oyster here!

Conduct an A/B test on your video

With your videos hosted on Wistia, you also have the ability to set up an A/B test to learn more about what works for your audience.

You can test different, thumbnails, player colors, or even two entirely different videos against each other to see how that impacts your play rate.

When you place the video embed code of the A/B test onto your website, Wistia will automatically serve the A and B versions of your video at random.

Once enough time has passed, you can declare a winner. And like magic, Wistia will present that winning version of your video without needing to change the embed code. Pretty neat, right?

Optimize videos to meet your marketing goals

Play rate is one of our favorite metrics for measuring whether your video is in the best possible context. You should also remember that you might have different expectations for different videos.

For example, a video that’s central to the message of your page, such as a homepage video, will likely receive many plays. On the other hand, a supplemental video like a video example in a blog post might receive fewer plays — and that’s okay! If you’re not satisfied with your video’s play rate, give these three best practices a try. Here’s to an ever-increasing play rate!

Chris Lavigne


Mailing list sign-up form

Sign up to get Wistia’s best and freshest content.

More of a social being? We’re also on Instagram and Twitter.