YouTube is cracking down globally on ad blockers

If you use an ad blocker, you probably make sure it’s on before watching YouTube videos.

YouTube is cracking down globally on ad blockers
People attend the YouTube Fanfest in Jakarta, Indonesia, October 23, 2016. REUTERS/Beawiharta/File Photo

If you use an ad blocker, you probably make sure it’s on before watching YouTube videos, which now show ads before videos and even in the middle of their run time. But now YouTube is cracking down on this practice. If you don’t want to watch the ads, you soon might have to resort to playing for a YouTube Premium subscription.

The platform has officially gotten serious about suspending ad-blockers, launching a campaign to cut the practice, according to YouTube communications manager Christopher Lawton in a statement to The Verge.

“The use of ad blockers violate YouTube’s Terms of Service,” Lawton says. “We’ve launched a global effort to urge viewers with ad blockers enabled to allow ads on YouTube or try YouTube Premium for an ad free experience. Ads support a diverse ecosystem of creators globally and allow billions to access their favorite content on YouTube.”

Now, if an adblocker is enabled while browsing YouTube, the user will get a pop-up that says, “Ad blockers violate YouTube’s terms of service,” and they might not be able to watch videos again until the blocker is disabled for the site. At the moment, it seems like this popup only appears for some users, or that it’s bypassable when it does come up for others. 

It looks like Alphabet, which owns YouTube, is trying out methods to get subscriber numbers higher, and this ad-blocker crackdown is one of those possible methods. Last year, YouTube reported that it had 80 million paid users for the YouTube Music and Premium tiers. At the moment, YouTube Premium costs individual users about US$13.99 per month. YouTube’s main source of revenue is still ad dollars, though.

YouTube has also been experimenting with its ad format–introducing 30-second unskippable ads to TVs last May and rolling out longer but fewer ads for certain video content just this past September. 

But, it looks like ad blockers have been looking for workarounds to help their own users. One application, called Adblock Plus, posted a statement last month saying, "The bottom line is we know how important it is for our users to access an ad-free YouTube experience for free.”