Use a GIF as a Wistia Video Thumbnail

UPDATE: we released a tool that does the work for you. Check out our GIF Thumbnail Embed Generator tool!

Using a moving GIF as the thumbnail of your video is a fantastic way to grab a viewer’s attention. When used appropriately, GIF thumbnails can help boost your video play rates, meaning more eyes on your content.

The problem with trying to upload a GIF as your video thumbnail, as you might’ve noticed, is that Wistia doesn’t support moving GIFs. Because of this, we must create a little work-around by replacing the video thumbnail when the video is embedded somewhere.

So to be clear: this work-around only works on embeds on other sites, not on the video within Wistia (i.e.

Replacing the video thumbnail

The embed code below is what allows you to embed your Wistia video anywhere with a GIF of your choice. There are just a few things you’ll need to change:

  • Line 4: change YOUR_WISTIA_VIDEO_ID to the actual ID from your Wistia video’s URL (i.e.
  • Line 6: change URL_TO_HOSTED_IMAGE to the actual URL of the GIF. Make sure the URL is contained within the quotes.
  • Line 11: also change the ID here.
  • Line 15: and here. Make sure the ID stays connected to “wistia_async_” by keeping the underscore there.

With your new embedding superpower, try to do some A/B testing. Compare a version with a static thumbnail versus one with a moving GIF and see if your play rates improve. Or even try testing different GIFs against each other. Go do something cool!

A couple examples

To help inspire you, here are a couple ways you could use GIFs as thumbnails to grab someone’s attention.

Andy Waplinger

I'm the CEO and co-founder of Medialytics. I'm on a mission to make the lives of content creators everywhere easier and more informed. I love to learn and teach and empower others. I also love puppy GIFs.

This entry has 2 replies

  1. Ehsan says:

    Great job Andy! Could you embed a video with a GIF thumbnail at the end of the article so we can see what is looks like?

    • Absolutely! I’ve updated the post with not just one, but two examples. Gotta practice what you preach – thanks for calling me out!

Leave a reply

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>