In a nutshell: YouTube recently ratcheted up its fight against ad blockers, launching a global effort to stop users from sidestepping ads on its platform. Early reports indicate the campaign is having an impact although the overall effectiveness – at least at this stage – is negligible.
AdGuard, an ad-blocking provider with an install base of around 75 million users, told Wired that between October 9 and the end of the month, uninstalls topped around 11,000 per day and spiked at about 52,000 on October 18. Normally, the company sees around 6,000 uninstalls of its Chrome extension each day.
Krzysztof Modras, director of product and engineering at ad block developer Ghostery, said they experienced three to five times the typical daily number of uninstalls and installs across much of October, which worked out to roughly flat usage.
Modras said the overwhelming majority of users that completed a survey when uninstalling cited the tool's failure to block ads on YouTube as the reason for removing it. Even more interesting is the fact that Ghostery saw installations on Edge increase 30 percent in October compared to the previous month, suggesting users are desperate to find a workaround to YouTube's blocker ban.
At AdLock, another ad blocking provider, daily installs and uninstalls were about 30 percent higher than normal in October.
One thing is for certain – the battle has just begun. As YouTube bolsters its ad blocker blocking technology, engineers will work to find a way to circumvent it. It's no different than malware creators and the companies that strive to protect web users – a constant back-and-forth battle to have the upper hand.
YouTube currently has the advantage, in part because of its limited rollout. Since its blocker blockade hasn't rolled out to all users, it's actually slowing down efforts to thwart (if you can't trigger the block on your end, how can you even start to devise a workaround?).
YouTube's solution for those that don't want to see ads is to pay $13.99 per month for its ad-free service, YouTube Premium.