November 5, 2012

Two Thumbnails Up

Ezra Fishman

Business Intelligence

We can’t share data from this experiment yet because it is literally happening as you read this (unless you read this later, in which case, here are the results!). But because we don’t want to leave you empty-handed, especially after you graciously volunteered (hah!) to be part of this scientific venture, we’ve pulled some additional data that we’d like to share now.

The chart below shows the distribution of play rates across all of the business videos hosted by Wistia. The average play rate across all videos is 30%.

PS: We did a study back in December 2010 that found the average play rate for Wistia-hosted videos to be 16.9%. This progress over the last couple years is great news for web video - people are becoming more likely to watch more of your videos!

Play rate is often neglected because most marketers don’t have access to this metric and don’t know how to improve it. Here’s an example of a video that has a 17% play rate, which is definitely below average if we’re looking at all Wistia-hosted videos:

There are lots of factors that influence this play rate (size of video, location of video, other content on page, etc) but we’ve found that one of the easiest and most consistent ways to improve play rate is to update the thumbnail.

Ideally, you should find an engaging frame from your video or add text to a frame in Photoshop to give viewers more context. Viewers will often decide to play your video based only on the thumbnail, so putting a little extra time and energy into making that thumbnail as enticing as possible can really help get your message to your audience.

What effect can choosing your own thumbnail have? Well, that’s the basis for the experiment we described in the video. But we also compared play rates for all Wistia-hosted videos that have an automatically generated thumbnail vs. a customized thumbnail (either by choosing a new frame or uploading an image). The results: 25% for automatic thumbnails vs. 34% for custom thumbnails. We can’t guarantee that updating your thumbnail will immediately increase your play rate by 10%, but it will likely help.

Stay tuned next week for the release of the experiment data that we are collecting right this instant!

*For the data nerds out there, a quick insight into how we calculate play rates: since we track every viewer on an individual basis, the play rate that we report (in the app and here) is actually personalized. What does that mean? That means if I go to your blog post 15 times and only watch the video once, the play rate for that video will be 100% (assuming no one else goes to that page). In effect, 100% of the people who have loaded that video have played it. We make sure the number reflects how each individual viewer interacted with your content.

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