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Expanding custom thumbnails to more partners

By Andy Stack

YouTube Product Manager

Over the past few months, we’ve been testing the impact of custom thumbnails on viewer watch time and engagement. Today, we’re expanding access to custom thumbnails for more YouTube partners, and over time, we aim to make them available to all partners in good standing. 

Why not just give custom thumbnails to everyone?

As we’ve mentioned before, we focus on watch time when suggesting videos because it improves overall audience engagement on YouTube, and opens up more revenue opportunities for you. We’ll continue to recommend videos whose thumbnails help drive viewers to actually watch them, over videos that are clicked and then quickly abandoned.

When custom thumbnails do not accurately reflect the content they represent, they can annoy and disappoint viewers. These videos perform poorly on watch time, so they will become less prominent on YouTube. We’re continuing to test how partners use this feature to see how they better drive viewership on YouTube.

Over the next few weeks, we'll be granting access in weekly batches to partners. Partners need to have been active for 30 days and in good standing. When you get access, you should only upload images that are representative of your video, ideally featuring prominent stills from your video. Thumbnails must comply with our Community Guidelines, so abuse of this feature can result in strikes against your account and account termination.

Displaying thumbnails that accurately and appealingly represent your content is the best way to ensure long-term growth for your channel.