YouTube rolls out the ability to let audiences choose the right video thumbnail

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YouTube has just announced the Thumbnail Test & Compare functionality is now rolling out to all creators with access to advanced features. The deployment will continue over the coming weeks, so be patient if you don’t see the feature yet in the YouTube Studio segment of the app.

As the name suggests, the new feature allows YouTube creators to upload up to three video thumbnails to test with viewers to help pick a winner. Once the thumbnails are uploaded, YouTube will show them evenly across a video’s viewers, and then select a winning thumbnail based on which one generates the most watch time share.

However, YouTube says that it may take a few days or up to two weeks to get finalized results from the uploaded thumbnails. This is affected by a wide range of factors including the amount of impressions videos get and how different the thumbnails are.

When the test is complete, YouTube creators should see a “Winner” label, especially if a thumbnail clearly outperformed the other ones. If there’s no clear winner, the first thumbnail will be selected and shown to the audience.

If you’re a YouTube creator, keep in mind that this test is optional, which means that regardless of test results, you can always manually select the video thumbnail you want to use even if it wasn’t the winning option.

Unfortunately, this is only available on YouTube Studio on a computer, although YouTube says that it will explore the possibility of bringing it on mobile devices. It’s also important to mention that creators can only test thumbnails on public long-form videos, live stream archives saved as videos, or on podcast episodes.

Also, it’s not possible to test thumbnails on videos that are set as for “Made for Kids,” videos made for mature audiences, or on private videos.

YouTube creators can make sure they can use this feature by going to the “Feature eligibility” section in the channel setting in Studio and checking if they see “Enabled” next to the “Advanced features” section.


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