YouTube Thumbnail A/B Testing

YouTube Thumbnail AB Testing Feature

YouTube Thumbnail A/B Testing may interest you, as YouTube has just rolled out a cool new feature called ‘Thumbnail Test & Compare,’ available for all channels. This handy tool lets you try out up to three different thumbnails for each of your videos to see which one gets the most watch time. This is important for lead generation, as a better thumbnail will get a higher click through rate.

How Does YouTube Thumbnail A/B Testing Work?

So, how does this thumbnail testing work, you may ask! Well, here is the deal, with the “Thumbnail Test & Compare” feature, you are allowed by YouTube to upload multiple thumbnail options when you publish a new video. During the testing period (about two weeks), YouTube will show your different thumbnails to different viewers on their platform.

After collecting lots of data, based on clicks and watch time, YouTube will analyze the thumbnails and select the one with the highest clicks.

Possible Outcomes of YouTube Thumbnail A/B Testing

Under these circumstances, one of these three possible outcomes will determine which thumbnail will be the best fit for your video:

Test Winner

A clear winning thumbnail that performed better than the others will be chosen by the YouTube algorithm. This winning thumbnail will automatically be applied to your video.


One thumbnail may be preferred by the algorithm, perhaps because it did better. In this case, the results are a bit uncertain.


No clear winner. The first thumbnail you upload will be the one on display.

And here’s the best part: even if your preferred thumbnail didn’t win, you can still manually choose it to display.

Best Practices for YouTube Thumbnail A/B Testing

Now, let’s talk about some best practices for YouTube thumbnails regarding these new features. YouTube suggests you start by testing thumbnails on a few of your older videos to gain some initial insights into how these new features work. Once you’ve learned from that, you can move on to testing thumbnails on your newer videos.

Tips for Designing Effective Thumbnails

Helpful tips

Balance & Focal Point

Make sure your images are balanced and direct viewers’ attention to a focal point.

High Contrast

Use high contrast so that your subject stands out against the background, whether in light or dark modes.

Facial Expressions

If your thumbnail includes a face, try showing some emotion to convey how you want viewers to feel.

Keep It Concise

Use fewer words. Too much text can be hard to read when a viewer is scrolling fast.

Depth & Blank Space

Consider the background and use blank space to create depth.

Accessing the YouTube Thumbnail A/B Testing Feature

Accessing the YouTube Thumbnail AB Testing Feature

Meanwhile, to access the “Thumbnail Test & Compare” feature, head over to the YouTube Studio desktop application. Just make sure you’ve enabled the “Advanced features” setting to use it. And don’t worry, YouTube will keep you posted on any updates regarding availability, including potential support for the mobile app in the future.

Why YouTube Thumbnail A/B Testing Matters

Now, here’s something important to note: YouTube judges thumbnails based on their ability to drive watch time, not just click-through rates. They believe that optimizing for overall watch time is the best way to guide your content strategy and support your success on the platform.

And why does all of this matter? Well, the “Thumbnail Test & Compare” tool solves the problem of having to guess which thumbnail will perform the best. No more relying on guesses or small-sample polls! By focusing on watch time, YouTube is all about long-term viewer engagement rather than short-term clicks.

Benefits of YouTube Thumbnail A/B Testing for Creators

For creators, this means that better-performing thumbnails can boost your content in YouTube’s recommendations and keep viewers watching more of your videos. Since video openers and thumbnails are crucial first impressions, having data-backed tools to perfect these elements can make a big difference.

So, give the “Thumbnail Test & Compare” feature a try and see how it helps you level up your YouTube game!