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Visual Persuasion: An Exploration of the Relation between the Visual Attributes of Thumbnails and the View-Through of Videos

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Document pages: 43 pages

Abstract: As more businesses become aware of the advantages of video marketing, the competition in onlinevideo platforms is becoming fierce. For video content, it is becoming more challenging to standout from the crowd. Industry experts and anecdotal evidence have highlighted the importance ofthumbnails for the view-through of videos. Thumbnails are usually the first thing that potentialviewers see when they browse through an online video platform. While browsing through theplatform, they decide which videos to click and watch based on the information and impressionthey obtain from thumbnails. Therefore, a thumbnail needs to be able to tell potential viewers whatthe video is about (i.e., be informative). At the same time, a thumbnail needs to grab potentialviewers’ attention (i.e., be visually appealing). Drawing from the elaboration likelihood model(ELM), we take the visual attributes that are relevant to the informativeness of thumbnails (e.g.,the element complexity and object complexity of thumbnails) as central route cues, take the visualattributes that are relevant to the aesthetics of thumbnails (e.g., the celebrity endorsement,colorfulness, brightness, and image quality of thumbnails) as peripheral route cues, and explorethe relation between these visual attributes and the view-through of videos using 3,745 marketingvideos posted by 38 top brands across 4 industries – the automobile, beverage, restaurant, and toyindustries – on YouTube. We construct our variables by extracting features from thumbnails usingimage mining techniques. Thus, our measures are reasonably scalable and, more importantly, notsubjective. This study contributes to the literature on information systems and marketing byenhancing our understanding of the role of visual attributes in persuading viewers in the contextof video content marketing. Finally, our results provide useful guidelines for optimizingthumbnails to grab potential viewers’ attention and yield more video views.

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