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. youraccount.wistia.com/medias/aabbccddee).

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. youraccount.wistia.com/medias/3js9dj2s4a).
  • 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!

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