June 12, 2024

YouTube Rolls Out Thumbnail AB Testing To All Channels

YouTube Rolls Out Thumbnail AB Testing To All Channels

Great news for creators! YouTube is launching a new feature called “Thumbnail Test & Compare” for all channels. This tool allows you to optimize your videos for higher watch time by testing different thumbnails.

Here's the breakdown:

  • Test Up to Three Thumbnails: Upload and compare up to three different thumbnail options for each video to see which one resonates best with viewers.
  • Data-Driven Decisions: YouTube analyzes “watch time share” to determine the most effective thumbnail. This metric measures the percentage of total watch time a specific thumbnail generates.
  • Clear Outcomes: After testing, you’ll get one of three results:
  • Winner: A clear champion emerges based on watch time. This thumbnail is automatically set as your video’s default.
  • Preferred: One thumbnail shows promise but needs more data for definitive results.
  • None: No thumbnail stands out. Your original uploaded thumbnail remains.
  • Maintain Control: You can still choose your preferred thumbnail, even if it’s not the “winner.”

Thumbnail Best Practices:

Start Small: Test thumbnails on a few older videos before diving into your latest creations.

Design Tips:

  • Balance & Focal Point: Create a visually balanced image with a clear center of attention to draw viewers in.
  • High Contrast: Ensure your subject pops against the background, both in light and dark themes.
  • Facial Expressions: If your thumbnail features a face, leverage emotions to evoke a specific feeling in viewers.
  • Concise Text: Keep text short and impactful. Avoid overwhelming viewers with too much information.
  • Depth & Blank Space: Consider the background and strategically utilize negative space for visual appeal.


Access the “Thumbnail Test & Compare” feature through the YouTube Studio desktop app with “Advanced features” enabled.
The rollout is gradual, reaching all eligible channels over the next few weeks.
Stay tuned for updates on future availability, including potential mobile app support.

YouTube Rolls Out Thumbnail AB Testing To All Channels

Why Watch Time Matters:

YouTube prioritizes watch time over metrics like click-through rate when evaluating thumbnails.
Their reasoning? High watch time signifies strong viewer engagement, which is crucial for your channel’s success on the platform.

Benefits for Creators:

The “Thumbnail Test & Compare” tool eliminates guesswork and empowers you with data-driven insights for creating high-performing thumbnails. This can lead to:

  • Increased Visibility: Optimized thumbnails can boost your content’s visibility in YouTube’s recommendations, leading to more views.
  • Improved Engagement: Effective thumbnails grab attention and keep viewers hooked on your videos

With this new feature, you have the power to create compelling thumbnails that leave a lasting impression and drive long-term viewer engagement on your YouTube channel.