YouTube is intensifying its efforts to counter online ad blocking tools, by preventing users from accessing YouTube content when ad blockers are detected.
In the last few months, YouTube has been notifying users that they need to either disable their ad blocker or add YouTube to the allow list to watch YouTube videos via the web app.
YouTube has confirmed to The Verge that it is indeed escalating its anti-ad block campaign.
According to YouTube’s Christopher Lawton, “Ads enable a diverse ecosystem of creators worldwide and allow billions to enjoy their favorite content on YouTube.”
Lawton says that the use of ad blockers breaches YouTube’s terms, and he also mentioned that this initiative has become a “global effort”, with many more users now seeing the alert in-stream.
Based on research by Tinuiti, about 31% of U.S. adult consumers use ad blockers currently, a segment that has been growing steadily over time.
The main reason people gave for using ad blockers is to safeguard their privacy. This has led to European regulators introducing new data usage opt-out clauses in its Digital Services Act (DSA). And it requires all online platforms operating in Europe to offer a way for users to move away their data from ad targeting.
That will likely result in many now offering paid, ad-free options instead, like Meta did this week. That basically allows them to keep showing ads, which generate most of their revenue, while a very small segment of users will probably opt into their paid program. But the uptake of such is not very important, what really matters is that the platforms are offering an opt-out to comply with the new law.
YouTube also has its own ad-free Premium option, so users can already avoid ads in the app, for a fee, without using ad blocking tools. It seems that YouTube is now using that to maximize its ad revenue, by urging users towards Premium instead, or to simply accept ads in the app.
Until now, ad blockers are running due to the privacy aspect. But more platforms are offering ad-free options to eliminate the business rationale for ad blocking tools. It also gives more reason for other platforms to block access for users when they find ad blockers.