The process of picking that all-important thumbnail for your latest YouTube video might be getting a lot easier soon. YouTube says it’s conducting early testing of a feature it’s calling “Test & Compare,” which lets creators upload up to three thumbnails for a single video and let YouTube experiment behind the scenes to see which one performs the best.
In a video announcement, YouTube says it’s currently testing the feature with “a few hundred creators,” but plans to roll out a beta version in the coming months to thousands more ahead of a broader launch next year.
YouTube says the functionality, which is often known as A/B testing, has been a “top requested feature” by its users. A video’s thumbnail plays a vital role in drawing in viewers, meaning there’s pressure to make it as appealing as possible. A screenshot of the in-development YouTube feature shows how its Test & Compare feature will report back each thumbnail’s “watch time” as a percentage once it completes an A/B test.
Over the years third-party tools have popped up that advertise letting users A/B test YouTube thumbnails and I’ve also seen creators polling their Twitter followers to try and work out which image might perform better. “Thumbnail science to please The Algorithm is scarily important, and I need all the help and advice and dos/don’ts as I can get,” YouTuber Jay Foreman wrote alongside one such poll last year.