Why Do YouTubers Keep Changing Their Thumbnails and/or Titles?

Disclosure: When you buy something through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.

If you’re a fan of watching YouTube videos, you may have noticed something peculiar. That is, many YouTubers change their video thumbnail and/or title. Often times, within a few hours of originally uploading them. Why do they do this?

TL;DR – YouTubers change their video thumbnails and/or titles to test which one gives them the best click-through rate. Thus, improving their view count and growing their channel as fast as possible.

Understanding YouTube Video Thumbnails and Titles

Have you ever heard the saying ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’? Well, on YouTube, that advice is often ignored. The thumbnail – the small, eye-catching image that represents a video – can make or break a YouTuber’s success. The same holds true with video titles.

A successful YouTube thumbnail and title:

  1. Grabs Attention: It attracts viewers in a crowded online space.
  2. Increases Clicks: A good thumbnail and title boosts click-through rates (CTR).
  3. Sets Expectations: It tells viewers what to expect from the video.
  4. Builds Brand: Consistent thumbnails and catchy titles reinforce a creator’s identity.
  5. Boosts Algorithmic Ranking: High CTR improves algorithmic recommendations.
  6. Drives Engagement: Engaging thumbnails and titles lead to more interaction.
  7. Enhances Shareability: Appealing thumbnails and titles get shared more often.
  8. Improves Mobile Visibility: Crucial for mobile viewership.

The thumbnail and/or title of a YouTube video is often the first thing that catches your eye. Whether you’re viewing your latest channel subscriptions or browsing new content, attractive thumbnails and titles entice you to click.

Why Are YouTube Thumbnails and/or Titles Frequently Changed?

Viewers are attracted to a good thumbnail and title. But YouTubers are often conflicted which one to use. Choose the wrong thumbnail (or video title) and it can make or break the total view count and overall success.

That said, videos or channels with higher click-through rates (CTR) are favored by the algorithm. When YouTube detects a video with a higher CTR, it signifies user engagement, prompting YouTube to promote the video to a wider audience.

The more-attractive the thumbnail and title, the better the CTR, which leads to more views, more subscribers and more success.

people gathered around to watch youtube

Most Big-Name YouTubers Do This

If you see a YouTuber change their thumbnail, soon after they upload the video, they’re likely split-testing. YouTubers often update their video titles and thumbnails within the first couple of hours after uploading because they use the initial period to gauge viewer interest.

If the video’s click-through rate falls below a certain threshold, typically around 5%, it signals that the thumbnail or title may not be sufficiently captivating. This prompts creators to make changes and assess whether the updated CTR improves, driving the constant adjustments to titles and thumbnails.

This is a method that many popular YouTubers use. You’ll often find big-name channels like MrBeast, NELK, RossCreations, Veritasium, etc. doing this. In fact, Veritasium answered the question of “why thumbnails and titles are changed often” in a video he uploaded. Starting at 8:47, there’s an excellent explanation of this. See below:

He explains that after 3 days of a poor-performing video, he changed the title and thumbnail and it resulted in that particular video going from his worst performing to best performing video, with 14+ million views. He also explains that, contrary to popular opinion, this method isn’t usually done to dupe their viewers. It’s done for long-term success of their upload.

In this same video, Veritasium asks MrBeast, “Have you ever changed the title or thumbnail of video, and it did better?” He replies, “Oh, of course,” and then elaborates on the fact that every video he creates, he swaps between 3-4 thumbnails, for this very reason.

Leave a Comment