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YouTube Introduces ‘Thumbnail Test & Compare’ Tool for Creators

YouTube has officially launched “Thumbnail Test & Compare,” a new feature designed to help creators determine the most effective video thumbnails. Initially introduced to a select group of creators last year, this tool is now available to a broader audience.

With this feature, creators can test up to three different thumbnails for each video. These thumbnails are displayed evenly to viewers, allowing creators to analyze performance data and choose the thumbnail that generates the most watch time. This data-driven approach aims to help creators select the most engaging preview image, thereby attracting more viewers.

The testing period for thumbnails varies from a few days to two weeks, depending on the number of impressions and the differences between thumbnails. YouTube advises creators to test thumbnails with distinct differences in layout, background, and text overlay to ensure accurate results. If no clear winner emerges, the initial thumbnail will be selected by default, but creators can manually change it later.

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Creators can use this tool for various content types, including regular videos, podcast episodes, archived livestreams, and public long-form content. However, it is not available for private content or videos rated as mature or “Made for Kids.” Testing older videos may also yield less conclusive results due to fewer impressions compared to newer content.

Thumbnail Test & Compare will soon be accessible through YouTube Studio on desktop for all creators with advanced features, which requires phone and ID verification. YouTube is also working on extending this feature to mobile devices.

This new tool is part of YouTube’s ongoing efforts to provide creators with innovative tools. Recent additions include AI features for skipping to the best parts of videos and new capabilities for Shorts, such as AI-generated backgrounds and custom effects.

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