Is there any term for gaming the preview screen of YouTube, such as by deliberately choosing a frame of the video that features cleavage or nudity as the preview screen?

The YouTube video "Magic: The Gathering - Inside the World's Most Played Trading Card Game" ___ by choosing as its preview one of the cards which involved a large amount of cleavage.

  • 2
    Tits sell. They've known this for millennia. Tit-mongering, I guess.
    – Ricky
    Nov 22, 2015 at 10:50
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    Just an FYI - YouTube are well aware of this tactic and when you upload a video they choose three frames at random from the clip and you can select which of those is the thumbnail. While this isn't foolproof it does make it more difficult to spoof the thumbnail with something more alluring than the video actually is. Nov 23, 2015 at 12:09
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    I think they generally call it misleading thumbnails specifically in case of youtube, but the technical term would be clickbait, which is also used for misleading titles in other text based websites
    – user13267
    Nov 23, 2015 at 14:30
  • 2
    You can change it to anything you like if you're verified: support.google.com/youtube/answer/72431?hl=en-GB
    – pjc50
    Nov 23, 2015 at 16:09
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    To be... somewhat fair, Serra Angel, particularly that art for her, is one of the most iconic cards in MtG. I haven’t actually watched the video, but I recognized the preview immediately. A Google image search for “iconic mtg art” has it above the fold, for instance.
    – KRyan
    Nov 23, 2015 at 20:23

3 Answers 3


It is called thumbnail cheat.

a famous trick used on video sharing sites such as You tube, where users stick a random softcore porn picture (i.e. female assets and chicks seemingly engaged in sensual acts) in the middle of their videos so as to make that the default icon of the video, thus gaining views from easily excitable male users.


There is even a song about thumbnail cheat in YouTube:

  • 2
    have never heard this in my entire life, click-bait is a better answer
    – celeriko
    Nov 23, 2015 at 17:12
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    @celeriko: While click-bait can be a correct answer, it is a more general term and it is usually used for advertisements and links. Thumbnail cheat is a more specific term for OP's example and you've heard it now.
    – ermanen
    Nov 23, 2015 at 17:25

I think the most common term for this type of activity is click-bait.

From Urban Dictionary

It means what you think it means: bait for clicks. It's a link which entices you to click on it.

The "bait" comes in many shapes and sizes, but it is usually intentionally misleading and/or crassly provocative. Clicking will inevitably cause disappointment. Clickbait is usually created for money.

  • Is the term commonly used outside of "journalism" and blogging?
    – Golden Cuy
    Nov 22, 2015 at 21:47
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    @AndrewGrimm There's been at least one usage on a Stack Exchange site that I'm aware of. Seems like it's a pretty general term now for anything done to increase the number of clicks a link gets, regardless of what the link points to. Nov 23, 2015 at 16:23
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    +1, Click-bait is by far the most prevalent term, watch any video or read any article about youtube scammers and internet advertising scammers
    – celeriko
    Nov 23, 2015 at 17:11

If the image is part of the video, then it's not quite bait-and-switch, a as that usually entails substituting something out of the blue; although it may fit Merriam-Webster's definition number 2:

  1. a sales tactic in which a customer is attracted by the advertisement of a low-priced item but is then encouraged to buy a higher-priced one

  2. the ploy of offering a person something desirable to gain favor (as political support) then thwarting expectations with something less desirable

A general term for an enticing image is a teaser.

  1. an advertising or promotional device intended to arouse interest or curiosity especially in something to follow


So a term for "gaming the preview" would be "showing a teaser" or "doing a bait-and-switch". There may be a more succinct term.

  • 2
    It's often not really part of the video - I've seen cases where it's a single frame unrelated to any of the video's other content.
    – Random832
    Nov 22, 2015 at 20:28

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