The process of choosing that all-important thumbnail for your latest YouTube video may soon get a lot easier. YouTube says it is conducting early testing of a feature it calls “Test & Compare,” which would allow creators to upload up to three thumbnails for a single video and let YouTube experiment behind the scenes to see which one performs best.
In a video announcementYouTube says it’s currently testing the feature with “a few hundred creators,” but plans to beta roll out to thousands more in the coming months ahead of a wider launch next year.
YouTube says the functionality, often known as A/B testing, is a “most requested feature” by its users. A video’s thumbnail plays a vital role in attracting viewers, which means there’s pressure to make the video as engaging as possible. A screenshot of the YouTube feature in development shows how the Test & Compare feature reports each thumbnail’s “watch time” as a percentage once it completes an A/B test.
Over the years third-party utilities have popped up advertising that allows users to A/B test YouTube thumbnails and I’ve also seen creators poll their Twitter followers to try and figure out which image could perform better. “Miniature science to please the algorithm is eerily important, and I need all the help and advice and do’s/don’ts I can get,” YouTuber Jay Foreman wrote alongside such a poll last year.