The YouTube thumbnail is an image we’ve all come to associate the website with. It’s the thumbnail for a video that compels us to watch yet another video that would suck two additional minutes from our precious lives. Considering that thumbnails are likely to be the primary factor driving users, any change related to their behavior could have significant implications for YouTubers. According to a tweet by the official YouTube Twitter account, the company seems to be testing auto-generated thumbnails of videos from some accounts.
The test itself isn’t a problem, but the fact that it replaces the custom thumbnails that users have created has caused some uproar in the creator community on YouTube. The reason for this uproar is clear this overrides the thumbnails that professional YouTubers have invested time in to create according to the content of the video. Time considering the significance of a good thumbnail to reach a certain number of views. The tweet in question added that YouTube is “running a small experiment where 0.3 percent of viewers will see” the auto-generated thumbnail. YouTube has clarified that the reason for this test is so that the company can “gain insights on auto-generated thumbnails”.
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The 0.3 percent of viewers may not seem huge on paper, but it is significant considering there are about 1.8 billion viewers that log in on YouTube which amounts to about five million viewers. There are bound to be vocal users who would not like YouTube overriding a feature that they have provided, without any information or notice.
On the flip side, this move is likely to be important for millions of users who use YouTube to share their videos without their family and friends and don’t take out time to create custom thumbnails. This experiment is likely to improve YouTube’s algorithm to give such users comparatively better thumbnail than the current system pulling in more views on the video than without the improvements.