YouTube now warns users that ad blockers aren't allowed
An experiment that could become permanentBy Rob Thubron 63 comments
A hot potato: YouTube's annoying ads often push those who don't want to pay $120 for YouTube Premium to use ad blockers. But Google isn't happy about this potentially lost revenue, and has decided to experiment with a feature that urges ad-blocker users to think again.
Redditor Sazk100 posted a screenshot earlier this week showing a YouTube popup warning that ad blockers are not allowed on the platform. It notes that ads allow YouTube to stay free for billions of users worldwide, and that an ad-free experience is available via the paid-for YouTube Premium. The message finishes with two options: Allow ads on YouTube or try YouTube Premium, which is $11.99 per month or $119.99 per year for access to original programs and no ads.
Some users who've seen it say they have been able to simply close the pop-up and continue blocking ads on YouTube, but it's likely that Google will clamp down on this, or make the pop-up appear regularly enough to be a distraction.
The moderators of the YouTube subreddit wrote that an employee had confirmed the ad-blocker message was an experiment by YouTube. A Google spokesperson expanded on this in a statement to IGN.
"We're running a small experiment globally that urges viewers with ad blockers enabled to allow ads on YouTube or try YouTube Premium," they said. "Ad blocker detection is not new, and other publishers regularly ask viewers to disable ad blockers."
While most online companies make their revenue from ads, some complain that YouTube has gone too far, citing its increasing number of unskippable and extended mid-roll ads.
The Reg notes that YouTube brought in $29.2 billion from ad revenue in 2022, an increase from the $28.8 billion it generated the year before, making up over 11% of Google's annual revenue. However, the $7.96 billion that came from ads in the fourth quarter of 2022 was down almost 8% year-on-year as the whole online advertising industry slumped.
Google does often carry out YouTube experiments. There was a trial earlier this year that restricted 4K content to Premium subscribers, and another that offered a higher bitrate "1080p Premium" option to subs.
Whether Google decides to turn this latest experiment into something permanent is unknown, but don't be surprised if it sticks around and becomes more than just a warning.