Is This The End of Thumbnails — YouTube Update!

YouTube has announced some updates that could replace thumbnails with something to help viewers make more informed decisions; and it all starts with YouTube search!

If you watch the video you’ll discover why there aren’t any chapters here 🙂

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=================== text video ====================

— No, YouTube thumbnails are not dead.

You likely clicked on this video in part

thanks to its thumbnail.

But the next phase of YouTube
search is apparently upon us.

One that doesn’t just rely
on the thumbnail and title,

one that according to YouTube
will help you make even more

informed decisions about
what you’re going to watch.

And this all starts with video chapters

directly in search page.

Oh, it’s a bit anticlimactic
so much so that

I didn’t actually write
anything on this piece of paper.

When you do a search on the YouTube app,

you have two things to work with.

First, the title and the
thumbnail and as per usual,

Think Media have done a
very good job with theirs.

But seconds after you see
the title and the thumbnail,

the video automatically starts playing.

This helps to explain why
some creators bake narrated

text into the beginning of
their videos to help reinforce

what they’re about.

But sometimes when it comes
to search based content,

the intent of a viewer is very specific.

They often want a precise
solution to a question

that may be contained
within a longer video

and video chapters is the
possible solution to this.

Let’s get two things straight

video chapters are not new,

nor is using them to enhance search new.

If you are fortunate enough
to rank your YouTube videos

highly on Google search,

those video chapters
transform into key moments

and occupy tons of screen real estate,

almost guaranteeing more clicks,

but it’s not quite the same on the YouTube

mobile app search page.

In order to see the chapters,

you do need to tap on them to expand.

And this is quickly teaching
me one important lesson,

the titles of your video
chapters need to be very short

or they will get cut off.

So is this a truly the next
phase of YouTube search

are video chapters going
to displace thumbnails?

I’m going to go out on a
limb on this one and say, no.

This is just a personal
opinion, of course,

but surely when it comes to search,

the next big step will be to implement

Google search video snippets.

That do an excellent job of
figuring out exactly the portion

of a video that answers your query

and playing from that spot.

So while I don’t think
video chapters is the sign

we’ve all been waiting
for when it comes to

the evolution of YouTube search,

I do believe it is a
sign of things to come.

That’s because YouTube quietly
launched automatic chapters

a couple of months ago.

And it means that you don’t
have to create them manually.

I can’t yet tell you how
to trigger them because

when I tested it out,

I didn’t automatically
generate diddly squat.

But I think it might have
something to do with yet more

disturbing YouTube witchcraft.

Now, regular viewers will
already know that I’ve been

finding some weird and wonderful stuff

when it comes to YouTube search.

It’s going deep into videos,

sometimes 10 minutes to grab a caption

that fits the search query.

And even more weirdly,

it’s taking text from the video themselves

and providing it as a search result.

Well, it looks like automatic chapters

is doing something very similar.

This video has less 200 views

and no manual chapters in the description,

but we can see chapters
have been applied to video.

And when you review them,

the text is pulled directly
from the text in the video,

in the bottom left-hand corner.

There is no voice over to the video.

The source of these
automatic chapters must be

YouTube’s AI watching the video.

So in this instance,

if I was only interested in close pushups,

rather than the full chest
workout from this video,

automatic chapters has done its job.

So yeah.

This is why you’ve been
seeing some simple texts

in the corner of the video.

Cause I’m trying to
trigger automatic chapters

rather than putting them in manually.

But because my videos have
so much text in them already,

I’m not entirely sure
this is going to work.

And if it does work,

are these video chapters really going to

convince more viewers to click?


YouTube also announced
another search upgrade

by starting to show search
results from other languages

with automatically translated captions,

titles and descriptions
when relevant content

in the local language isn’t available.

This means that someone in
Thailand can learn about

quantum physics from a professor at MIT

or viewers in Brazil can explore
the Grand Canyon from home,

with captions in their local language.

Now I’d love to hear
your thoughts on this.

Would you rather have YouTube recommend

the best video on a topic,

but translated from another language?

Or would you always take
the best video on the topic

from your native language?

I don’t feel qualified
to answer this question,

being a native English speaker

spoiled for choice on YouTube,

but we do recognize the

tremendous diversity on the platform,

which is why we dub all of our content

into Spanish and Russian.

But anyway, let’s get back
to that original question.

Are YouTube thumbnails, and
by extension YouTube titles,


No, no, no, no, no, no.

Are YouTube descriptions dead?

Probably in the same place
they have been for ages.

Are YouTube tags dead?

I would class them as
currently on life support.

But what we’re seeing the birth of is

YouTube content engine optimization.

Eventually I’ll find a
better word for this,

but what it effectively means
is that YouTube has been

analyzing the content of your video

for years and years and years,

but only now are they
starting to let you know

that they do this on
a very thorough basis.

And if you want to learn
more about what I found out,

check out the video over here.


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