YouTube creators can now test multiple video thumbnails

    YouTube announced this week the rollout of “Thumbnail Test & Compare,” a new tool for creators to see which thumbnail performs the best. The feature first launched to select creators last year but is now widely available. 

    When creators publish a new video (or update an existing video), they can test up to three thumbnails, which will be shown “evenly” across viewers, the company explained in a post. Creators can then access performance data to see which thumbnail generated the most watch time share in order to make an informed decision.

    Thumbnail Test & Compare should prove to be a successful tool among creators as it lets them choose the most engaging preview image that hopefully attracts more viewers. As more and more creators emerge, it’s crucial to make well-informed decisions about thumbnails to stay competitive.

    The testing process can take a few days or up to two weeks to complete, depending on the amount of impressions the video gets and how different the thumbnails are. YouTube encourages testing thumbnails with distinct differences, such as variations in layout compositions, backgrounds, and text overlays, to ensure a comprehensive test. If there’s “no clear winner,” then the first thumbnail will be selected, but it can be changed manually.

    Creators can test thumbnails on a variety of content, including regular videos, podcast episodes, archived livestreams, and public long-form content. However, the tool cannot be used for private content or videos rated mature and “Made for Kids.” It could be harder to get conclusive test results from older videos, though, since they may not get the same number of impressions as newer ones. 

    Over the coming weeks, Thumbnail Test & Compare will become available in YouTube Studio on desktop to all creators with access to advanced features. (This means creators need to complete phone and ID verification before they can unlock advanced features.) The company is also working on a way to support the feature on mobile devices. 

    YouTube has recently been introducing a range of new tools for creators to experiment with, such as an AI feature that lets them skip to the best part of a video, as well as features for Shorts like AI-generated backgrounds and the ability to design unique effects.

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