YouTube viewers are in for alternating video thumbnails as part of a new test

The YouTube app listing on the Google Play Store, running on a Google Pixel 8 Pro
(Image credit: Nicholas Sutrich / Android Central)

What you need to know

  • YouTube has started a "Test & Compare" experiment, which lets creators upload multiple thumbnails for a video.
  • The platform will alternate up to three thumbnails "evenly" for viewers on YouTube as an engagement test to see what catches their eyes and boosts video engagement.
  • YouTube launched a "Remix" test for Shorts creators earlier this year while also expanding its AI-backed "jump ahead" test for viewers in May.

YouTube announced a test for creators that will let them determine which thumbnail attracts the most viewers.

According to Team YouTube, creators on the platform will soon pick up access to the "Thumbnail Test & Compare" test feature (via 9to5Google). Partaking creators can then upload "up to three" thumbnails for a singular video. The purpose is to gauge which of those three entices viewers the most to click on your video.

The post states that the platform will "show your chosen thumbnails evenly across your video’s viewers." After the test, creators will see a "Winner" label on whichever thumbnail outperformed the others. YouTube states a winning thumbnail's performance is calculated based on "watch time share."

However, if a thumbnail "likely" outperformed the other two based on watch time, YouTube will display a "Preferred" tag. If there is no clear winning thumbnail, the platform will display the first photo a creator uploaded to their audience.

YouTube states a test could vary from a few days to a few weeks. The amount of time taken is reportedly due to a "variety of factors" like the amount of impressions a video receives and the number of thumbnails uploaded.

YouTube is kickstarting a "Test & Compare" experiment for creators, allowing them to upload multiple thumbnails for a video.

(Image credit: YouTube)

The platform allows creators to go back and upload a couple of extra thumbnails to older videos if they choose, as well.

As stated on its support page, the Test & Compare experiment is rolling out to a "limited set" of content creators on YouTube. Those lucky enough to get in will notice a Test & Compare button when putting the final touches on your content in YouTube Studio. Those interested in (hopefully) getting chosen should ensure that their account is eligible by hopping into YouTube Studio > Feature eligibility > Enable "Advanced Features."

Earlier this year, YouTube started a test for creators making Shorts, which let them "Remix" their content using music videos. Users could grab the video's audio through the "Sound" option, "Collab" with it by featuring their content next to an artist's music video, and more.

A more user-facing experiment rolled out for wider availability earlier in May called "jump ahead." The test, backed by YouTube's AI, lets users automatically skip through a video to its best parts to save you time. Speculation suggests that YouTube needs a rather large sample size of viewers clicking on a video and watching to determine what those "best parts" are.

Nickolas Diaz
News Writer

Nickolas is always excited about tech and getting his hands on it. Writing for him can vary from delivering the latest tech story to scribbling in his journal. When Nickolas isn't hitting a story, he's often grinding away at a game or chilling with a book in his hand.