YouTube Is Starting to Ban Some Ad Blockers

Their edict: Either turn off browser ad blockers or pay for YouTube Premium

In this photo illustration a YouTube logo seen displayed on a smartphone screen in Athens, Greece on May 5, 2023.
You may not see YouTube videos if you have an ad blocker enabled
Photo illustration by Nikolas Kokovlis/NurPhoto via Getty Images

YouTube is beginning to force some users to either disable their browser’s ad blockers or pay for YouTube Premium to watch videos. Per a report on Gizmodo, the video site’s parent company Alphabet has probably implemented this measure after experiencing a third straight quarterly decline in ad revenue on the video site.

The YouTube warning about ad blockers was noticed by a Reddit user earlier this week, who received a notice that “ad blockers are not allowed on YouTube” and was given two options: Allow the ads or try YouTube Premium, which is currently priced at $11.99/month (in a smaller font, the company also suggested the user could “report an issue” if their browser was not, in fact, using an ad blocker).

The Reddit forum where the ad blocker ban by YouTube was first noticed

Unsurprisingly, reaction was swift and negative. “So, they allow scam ads, malware ads and throw a lot of unskippables and ask me to listen to them and don’t use blockers?” wrote one Reddit poster. “I’ll listen to them as much as they listen to their userbase and creators. I’d rather pay for vpn or research/invest into piholes or something like that. I’ll bet the moment they ban adblockers someone will make something alike for Firefox and i’ll migrate. So NO, Youtube, i get you’re testing the waters and i really hope this is a big flop for you.”

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So far, the scope of this ad-blocking ban seems limited. “We’re running a small experiment globally that urges viewers with ad blockers enabled to allow ads on YouTube or try YouTube Premium,” an Alphabet spokesperson told IGN via email. “Ad blocker detection is not new, and other publishers regularly ask viewers to disable ad blockers.”

Last year YouTube users noted that unskippable ads were becoming more frequent on the video site, with up to 10 ads in a row being shown for some viewers. Even if YouTube seems determined to ban ad blockers, somebody out there (as the above Reddit user noted) is just going to figure out another extension, browser or loophole to circumvent the ads, which are (let’s be honest) kind of dreadful but not bad enough yet to get most people to fork over $12 a month to avoid them.

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