YouTube is launching Thumbnail Test & Compare, a new feature that allows creators to test various video thumbnails and help them determine which one draws in the most viewers.

How it works

For every video, creators are allowed to test up to three thumbnails, which YouTube will evenly show to viewers. YouTube will then gather data on the performance of these thumbnails. The company says, “You can then see which thumbnail generated the most watch time share,” helping creators choose the most engaging thumbnail.

Depending on the number of impressions a video receives, the testing process could take a few days to two weeks.

YouTube suggests that creators test major differences in their thumbnails. These differences could be text overlay, backdrop or layout. If there isn’t a clear winner, the first thumbnail will be chosen by default, although creators can manually change it.

Availability and restrictions

This new tool can be used for a variety of content, such as standard videos, podcast episodes and even old livestreams. It is not, however, applicable to private videos, mature-rated content or videos labeled “Made for Kids.” Obtaining meaningful data from older videos may prove difficult, as they may receive relatively few impressions.

Within the next weeks, all creators with advanced features will be able to use Thumbnail Test & Compare in YouTube Studio on desktop. To use advanced features, creators must verify their ID and phone number. YouTube is working on bringing this functionality to mobile platforms as well.

Additional YouTube updates

YouTube is releasing more tools for creators in addition to thumbnail testing. An AI tool that assists viewers in skipping to the best part of a video is one feature to look out for. Additionally, YouTube is testing the use of the “@” symbol in comments to mention channels.