YouTube thumbnails, the small, clickable snapshots that viewers see when they search for videos, can be just as important as a video’s title because they provide a preview of your video and entice viewers to click through.
If your video has an ordinary or sub-par thumbnail, it won’t persuade anyone to watch your content. YouTube could deem the video irrelevant and won’t rank it in the search results or distribute it through the “Recommended Videos” feed. Since your video’s click-through rate is one of the most important ranking factors in YouTube’s search algorithm, especially during its first hour on the platform, an eye-catching thumbnail can make a huge difference in ranking number one for a query and not ranking at all.
Creating vibrant YouTube thumbnails can also instantly grab people’s attention and this can help you differentiate yourself on a platform full of standard thumbnails all screaming for attention. Below, we’ll guide you through an easy four-step process for creating visually appealing YouTube thumbnails that will cut through the noise, boost your video’s click-through rate, and lift your rankings.
Table of Contents:
How to Make a YouTube Thumbnail
- Visit a free online YouTube thumbnail maker.
- Upload a photo or choose one of the thumbnail makers’ templates.
- Add text, clipart, or a background to your thumbnail.
- Download the finished product to your computer.
1. Visit a free online YouTube thumbnail maker.
There are eight free online YouTube thumbnail makers listed below, but we featured FotoJet in this guide because it’s one of the only YouTube thumbnail makers that doesn’t make you sign up for a free account before you can create a thumbnail. Their robust thumbnail maker lets you customize and download your thumbnails completely for free — no email address necessary.
The free version of this online app lets you download small and medium-sized image files, but large and extra-large are premium features. This means you’ll get to be creative with your designs to ensure they appear as crisp as possible on YouTube.
2. Upload a photo or choose one of the thumbnail makers’ templates.
YouTube will let you upload any picture from your computer as your video’s thumbnail. But if you don’t have a vivid visual on your computer or you need some inspiration, Fotojet’s got you covered. It has over 23 free templates that can serve as your thumbnail’s foundation.
To create striking a thumbnail in Fotojet, consider including a talking head. People are naturally drawn to human faces because it’s an ingrained survival mechanism to help us quickly gauge someone’s emotions and determine if they’re a threat or friend. Research Gate also discovered that Instagram photos with faces are 38% more likely to receive likes and 32% more likely to receive comments.
3. Add text, clip art, or a background to your thumbnail.
Once you’ve picked your picture or template, you can make your thumbnail stand out even more by adding text, clip art, or a background to it.
To further clarify your video’s subject matter, consider adding your video’s title to the thumbnail. If your photo, graphic, or text is bright, consider placing it on top of a dark background. The color contrast will make your thumbnail pop. The same logic applies to dark objects and bright backdrops.
4. Download the finished product to your computer.
After you finish polishing your thumbnail, press the Save button at the top of the page to export your thumbnail.
Last, title your thumbnail. When you’re naming the thumbnail, include either the title of the video, or the primary keyword related to the video. Save the final file as a PNG or JPG. Its resolution will already match YouTube’s recommended resolution — 1280 x 720 pixels — so you don’t have to worry about resizing it later.
8 YouTube Thumbnail Makers
Along with Fotojet’s free online YouTube thumbnail maker, there are seven other thumbnail makers that can help you customize your own YouTube thumbnails. Before you create a thumbnail with these tools, though, you need to sign up for a free account on their websites.
FotoJet is a leading YouTube thumbnail maker that comes with templates to help you summarize your video into a click-worthy image. You can get started with FotoJet as soon as you land on the homepage — no email or account setup required. Choose from a variety of stock images, font styles, and clip art elements to customize your design, then export it in either a JPG or PNG format.
With more than 2 million images in their library, hundreds of fonts, and customizable backgrounds and colors, Canva gives you more than enough resources to unleash your creativity.
You can sign up for the free or paid version of the online design tool, but be prepared to take your own images as Canva’s image gallery can cost up to $1 per photo. Don’t let that deter you. This robust tool is jam-packed with free design elements that can help you create click-worthy YouTube thumbnails.
3. Adobe Spark
Adobe Spark lets you select from thousands of photos on the web and a variety of built-out themes with their own unique layouts, colors, and fonts to craft eye-catching YouTube thumbnails. Although the free version comes with a watermark on all content you download from the system, you can always upgrade to the paid version to have unique thumbnails that are truly your own.
With Crello, you can create engaging thumbnails by blending a multitude of designs, photos, backgrounds, text, and objects together. When compared to other popular design tools, Crello emerges as a less expensive option, but remember resizing your thumbnails could be a pain because of some improvements that need to be made within the app.
Choose from a wide selection of templates, photos, graphics, colors, and fonts to create a thumbnail in Visme. This app was made with video thumbnails in mind, so you won’t have to worry about sizing and finding the perfect layouts. Visme offers creators various templates to choose from so you can spend more time adding your finishing touches.
Fotor provides templates under certain themes to help you create captivating thumbnails. It includes all the trending YouTube thumbnail features like photo frames, the lomo effect, and background remover. The options are virtually limitless with Fotor as the canvas for your YouTube thumbnail.
If your workflow can’t be completed all in one session, Fotor’s premium plan allows you to save the version history of your thumbnails so you can pick up right where you left off.
With over 100,000 graphics, 1,000 stock photos, stickers, borders, backgrounds, text, icons, and filters, and an automatic background remover, you can create a gripping thumbnail on Picmaker. If you have set brand colors, the free options won’t be the easiest to work with since you can’t save colors, logos, or fonts. But upgrading to just the starter tier opens up a variety of benefits including a brand kit, premium photos, and multi-sized designs.
Snappa has over 500,000 stock photos, an assortment of professionally designed templates, and customizable graphics, shapes, and text to help you create a YouTube thumbnail. If you’re making over three thumbnails per month, Snappa might affect your workflow as the free version only allows three downloads per month. If three is enough for you, you’ll be glad to know there’s a drag-and-drop functionality to help you create your own custom thumbnail template.
Create Scroll-Stopping YouTube Thumbnails
Just like a peephole, the subject line of an email, and even caller-ID, a YouTube thumbnail gives the viewer a peek behind the curtain to see what’s on the other side. It’s a major component in a search result that will determine whether someone clicks and watches your video. Taking the tips and examples in this article, you’ll have to know how to make scroll-stopping YouTube thumbnails that will draw in new subscribers.
Editor’s note: This post was originally published in November 2018 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.
The Biggest Ad Fraud Cases and What We Can Learn From Them
Ad fraud is showing no signs of slowing down. In fact, the latest data indicates that it will cost businesses a colossal €120 billion by 2023. But even more worrying is that fraudsters’ tactics are becoming so sophisticated that even big-name companies such as Uber, Procter & Gamble, and Verizon have been victims of ad fraud in recent years.
So what does this mean for the rest of the industry? The answer is simple: every ad company, no matter their size or budget is just as at risk as the big guns – if not more.
In this article, I summarize some of the biggest and most shocking cases of ad fraud we’ve witnessed over recent years and notably, what vital lessons marketers and advertisers can learn from them to avoid wasting their own budgets.
The biggest ad fraud cases in recent years
Let’s take a look at some of the most high-profile and harmful ad fraud cases of recent years that have impacted some of the most well-known brands around the world.
Methbot: $5 million a day lost through fake video views
In 2016, Aleksandr Zhukov, the self-proclaimed “King of Fraud”, and his group of fraudsters were discovered to have been making between $3 and $5 million a day by executing fake clicks on video advertisements.
Oft-cited as the biggest digital ad fraud operation ever uncovered, “Methbot” was a sophisticated botnet scheme that involved defrauding brands by enabling countless bots to watch 300 million video ads per day on over 6000 spoofed websites.
Due to the relatively high cost-per-mille (CPM) for video ads, Aleksandr and his group were able to steal millions of dollars a day by targeting high-value marketplaces. Some of the victims of the Methbot fraud ring include The New York Times, The New York Post, Comcast, and Nestle.
In late 2021, Aleksandr Zhukov was sentenced to 10 years in prison and ordered to pay over $3.8 million in restitution.
Uber: $100 million wasted in ad spend
In another high-profile case, transportation giant Uber filed a lawsuit against five ad networks in 2019 – Fetch, BidMotion, Taptica, YouAppi, and AdAction Interactive – and won.
Uber claimed that its ads were not converting, and ultimately discovered that roughly two-thirds of its ad budget ($100 million) wasn’t needed. This was on account of ad retargeting companies that were abusing the system by creating fraudulent traffic.
The extent of the ad fraud was discovered when the company cut $100 million in ad spend and saw no change in the number of rider app installs.
In 2020, Uber also won another lawsuit against Phunware Inc. when they discovered that the majority of Uber app installations that the company claimed to have delivered were produced by the act of click flooding.
Criteo: Claims sues competitor for allegedly running a damaging counterfeit click fraud scheme
In 2016, Criteo, a retargeting and display advertising network, claimed that competitor Steelhouse (now known as MNTM) ran a click fraud scheme against Criteo in a bid to damage the company’s reputation and to fraudulently take credit for user visits to retailers’ web pages.
Criteo filed a lawsuit claiming that due to Steelhouse’s alleged actions — the use of bots and other automated methods to generate fake clicks on shoe retailer TOMS’ ads — Criteo ultimately lost TOMS as a client. Criteo has accused Steelhouse of carrying out this type of ad fraud in a bid to prove that Steelhouse provided a more effective service than its own.
Twitter: Elon Musk claims that the platform hosts a high number of inauthentic accounts
In one of the biggest and most tangled tech deals in recent history, the Elon Musk and Twitter saga doesn’t end with Twitter taking Musk to court for backing out of an agreement to buy the social media giant for $44 billion.
In yet another twist, Musk has also claimed that Twitter hid the real number of bots and fake accounts on its platform. He has also accused the company of fraud by alleging that these accounts make up around 10% of Twitter’s daily active users who see ads, essentially meaning that 65 million of Twitter’s 229 million daily active users are not seeing them at all.
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6 Lessons marketers can learn from these high-profile ad fraud cases
All of these cases demonstrate that ad fraud is a pervasive and ubiquitous practice that has incredibly damaging and long-lasting effects on even the most well-known brands around the world.
The bottom line is this: Marketers and advertisers can no longer afford to ignore ad fraud if they’re serious about reaching their goals and objectives. Here are some of the most important lessons and takeaways from these high-profile cases.
- No one is safe from ad fraud
Everyone — from small businesses to large corporations like Uber — is affected by ad fraud. Plus, fraudsters have no qualms over location: no matter where in the world you operate, you are susceptible to the consequences of ad fraud.
- Ad fraud is incredibly hard to detect using manual methods
Fraudsters use a huge variety of sneaky techniques and channels to scam and defraud advertisers, which means ad fraud is incredibly difficult to detect manually. This is especially true if organizations don’t have the right suggestions and individuals dedicated to tracking and monitoring the presence of ad fraud.
Even worse, when organizations do have teams in place monitoring ad fraud, they are rarely experts, and cannot properly pore through the sheer amount of data that each campaign produces to accurately pinpoint it.
- Ad fraud wastes your budget, distorts your data, and prevents you from reaching your goals
Ad fraud drains your budget significantly, which is a huge burden for any company. However, there are also other ways it impacts your ability to deliver results.
For example, fake clicks and click bots lead to skewed analytics, which means that when you assess advertising channels and campaigns based on the traffic and engagement they receive, you’re actually relying on flawed data to make future strategic decisions.
Finally – and as a result of stolen budgets and a reliance on flawed data – your ability to reach your goals is highly compromised.
- You’re likely being affected by ad fraud already, even if you don’t know it yet
As seen in many of these cases, massive amounts of damage were caused because the brands weren’t aware that they were being targeted by fraudsters. Plus, due to the lack of awareness surrounding ad fraud in general, it’s highly likely that you’re being affected by ad fraud already.
- You have options to fight the effects of ad fraud
Luckily, as demonstrated by these cases, there are some options available to counteract the impact and losses caused by ad fraud, such as requesting a refund or even making a case to sue. In such cases, ad fraud detection solutions are extremely useful to uncover ad fraud and gather evidence.
- But the best option is to prevent ad fraud from the get-go
The best ad fraud protection is ad fraud prevention. The only surefire way to stop fraudsters from employing sophisticated fraud schemes and attacking your campaigns is by implementing equally sophisticated solutions. Anti-ad fraud software solutions that use machine learning and artificial intelligence help you keep fraud at bay, enabling you to focus on what matters: optimizing your campaigns and hitting your goals.
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