If you love browsing YouTube and hate constantly having to wait through ads for Purple mattresses and local political candidates, you might be running some kind of ad-blocker on the web’s biggest video repository. Naturally, YouTube and Google would prefer that you not do so, and instead fork over twelve bucks a month for the ad-free YouTube Premium service. If some pop-up messages recently spotted by users are any indication, the service may be taking more proactive steps to block ad blockers soon.
A Reddit user (via 9to5Google) spotted a pop-up message on the YouTube desktop site, telling them that they needed to disable their ad blocker in order to keep watching. These sorts of messages aren’t new — a service called Admiral shows similar pop-ups when you try to access many sites. But the implication that Google will straight-up deny access if you don’t disable your ad blocker or subscribe for ad-free service is particularly aggressive. “Ad blockers are not allowed on YouTube,” says the message in large, bold text.
Reddit user Sazk100
A YouTube employee reached out to the subreddit mod team and confirmed that the message is an “experiment.” It doesn’t seem like everyone, using the many varied methods of blocking YouTube ads, is seeing it yet. How widely YouTube is willing to go to force advertising on users who don’t want to see it isn’t currently known, though it’s certainly been pursuing those goals lately. Google shut down a user-customized version of the YouTube Android app called YouTube Vanced earlier this year for unlocking premium features, including ad-free watching.
As someone whose entire career has been funded by online advertising in one way or another, I certainly understand that ads are a necessary part of the web. I’m also an avid user of that web, and I recognize that ad blockers are sometimes necessary in order to make it usable. It certainly didn’t escape my notice that YouTube’s advertising seemed to double — at the very least — around the same time it started offering a paid way to stop seeing those ads. And even so, plenty of YouTube channels still include sponsorships, Patreon pleas, and other means of trying to get revenue without using Google’s built-in advertising platform.
If YouTube finds that so many people are blocking ads that it’s affecting the bottom line, I might humbly suggest that they try running fewer ads, or charging less than a full streaming service just to get rid of them. That might be a more successful “experiment,” because I highly doubt those who are willing to use third-party tools to block ads will be any less motivated to do so.