Article last updated on:
February 10, 2024

Heard of thumbnail test running? Not sure what it is?

In this guide, we will:

  • Explain what thumbnail test running is
  • Teach you how to do it
  • Clarify any of your concerns

Join us, and let’s see what this is all about.

What does ‘thumbnail test running’ mean?

Thumbnail test running (A/B testing) means experimenting with different video thumbnails to determine which one attracts more views, engagement, or clicks.

These tests help you figure out what your audience likes best, and hence, what sort of thumbnails work better for your channel.

Illustration of thumbnail testing on YouTube

For instance, you upload 3 thumbnails and:

  • Thumbnail #1 → Goes to a few users
  • Thumbnail #2 → Visible to a number of other viewers
  • And so on.

After analysis, the most converting (winning) thumbnail remains in place for that specific video.

Thumbnail testing in YouTube

YouTube thumbnail testing is a feature that allows creators to test different thumbnails for their videos to see which one performs better.

To use thumbnail testing, creators upload two or three different thumbnails for the same video. YouTube then randomly shows these thumbnails to different segments of the creator’s audience.

The thumbnail that generates the highest CTR is then considered the winner.

Is it worth running thumbnail tests?

Yes, it is worth doing running thumbnail tests.

If you get an app to do it for you, then you don’t have to waste any time.

FactorManually switching
TimeTakes time to manually replace thumbnailsUpload thumbnails at a time and let the app do the hard work for you.
Tracking dataJust manual laborMore detailed data, including average view duration, click-through rate, and audience demographics
CustomizationLimited customization optionsOffers more control over test parameters, including audience targeting and test duration
CostFreePaid subscription service
Comparison table – YouTube vs ThumbnailTest

These are pretty much your only options:

  • Alone → You can try manually creating 2 to ∞ thumbnails yourself and change them every hour, day, week, […] to see which performs better.
  • App ( → Automatically does for you so thumbnails are on autopilot, and you get to focus on other work.
  • YouTube → No clear signs of a feature so far. Only releases the feature to a couple of YouTube Beta Testers in the past.

The benefit of an app

Indeed, ThumbnailTest is a paid service.

However, if you already are (or are planning to be) a dedicated content creator, then you might already know how much time everything takes.

Essentially: ThumbnailTest puts A/B Testing on auto-pilot, while you get to spend the whole of your time on more important work, such as:

  • Video/content creation
  • Collaborations & Sponsorship
  • Social media management
  • More — you know best.

Though, this is all just a way understanding whether your thumbnails perform well or not.


This guide studied what thumbnail test running is all about, and whether it’s worth doing it or not.

Hope you learned what you were looking for!

Thank you for reading this,

About the author

David is the head of the editing team at ThumbnailTest. With his help, the editorial team is able to provide you with the best free guides related to YouTube thumbnails and A/B testing.