How To Grab Your Audience’s Attention In The First Three Seconds

Facebook and Nielsen found that up to 47% of the value in a video campaign was delivered in the first three seconds, while up to 74% of the value was delivered in the first ten. So if you can hold their attention for the first three seconds, you have a higher chance of successfully delivering your message.

In our fast-paced, media-driven world, you need to understand the consumers of today in order to create content that they will engage with.

Here are some tips to grab your audience’s attention and keep it: 

The Thumbnail

It’s the first thing your audience sees, so make sure it’s compelling and relevant; make your audience want to click on your video.

The thumbnail should be colorful, creative, and impressive to the audience. We’ve seen a lot of success with thumbnails that feature faces, such as our “Love Has No Labels” video for Ad Council. The thumbnail depicts 2 girls hugging each other. We believed this shot from the video perfectly represented the message of unconditional love in the video. On our portfolio page, this is one of the most clicked on video thumbnails because the emotional message draws people in.


The Soundbite

The first thing your audience hears should grab them. For example, if a video opened with someone saying “And that was the day I would never forget,” your audience would think “What happened?!” and feel inclined to keep watching to find out.

If viewers don’t understand the concept of the video from the get-go, they’ll lose interest. When we’re telling a compelling story, we want the audience to lock in right away. For example, in our Make-A-Wish documentary, “Wizard For A Day,” we opened with a black screen and the sound of an audience cheering for the first three seconds. This technique draws the viewers in because they want to see what the audience is cheering for, so they’re likely to watch longer than the first three seconds. 


The Opening Shot

The opening shot is the audience’s first look into your video, and you always want to make a good first impression. Accompany your soundbite with a creative shot to really draw your audience in.


In our video “Ellie’s Story,” we opened with a shot of a transgender girl’s father crying as he says, “I’m really scared for her.” Within the first three seconds, the viewer is captivated as the shot immediately pulls them into the story of Ellie.

If you capture the viewer’s attention with the thumbnail, the soundbite, and opening shots, you’re guaranteed to engage your audience and keep them watching for more than three seconds.

Updated on February 11, 2020.

Lucy Wolfe, Marketing and Communications at Green Buzz Agency. Emily Herman contributed to this post.