How ad blockers affect the internet’s free offerings has been a long-standing debate. While ads provide a means of revenue for creators and make services accessible for free, some users have opted for ad blockers. In response, YouTube is now conducting tests to block access for users with ad blockers enabled. This move comes after Google’s announcement that it will invest more in subscription offerings in 2023, potentially handicapping its free offerings to drive more subscriptions.
Google recently announced that it will increase its investments in its subscription services in 2023 following the surge in the number of YouTube Premium subscribers to a historic 80 million in 2022. However, it seems that this move could result in the restriction of Google’s free services to encourage more users to subscribe to its premium offerings, which was not immediately clear at the time of the announcement.
YouTube Warns Users Against Ad Blockers in Experiment
A Reddit user recently faced a pop-up message while watching a video on YouTube stating that ad-blockers are not allowed on the platform. The message requested the user to disable their ad-blocker, as ads are crucial to support the free service provided to billions of users. YouTube also mentioned that its premium membership offers an ad-free experience and included a sign-up button for easy access to the premium service.
While this was a surprising message, given YouTube’s lack of focus on ad-blockers in the past, a YouTube employee has confirmed that this is currently an experiment and the platform is only testing the blocking of ad-blockers for now. The pop-up message explained that ads are necessary to keep the platform free for billions of users worldwide.
About a year ago, Google managed to shut down YouTube Vanced, a widely used third-party app that allowed users to block embedded ads on YouTube without a Premium subscription. This suggests that the company is dedicated to its ad-supported business model and wants to guarantee that the only way to avoid ads is by paying for a Premium membership. Whether or not this current experiment will lead to a broader implementation remains to be seen.
It’s understandable why YouTube would consider implementing such a rule as ad blockers diminish the revenue generated from videos, which covers the rising costs of storage and bandwidth needed for that content. However, it’s also evident that users find it frustrating. YouTube has significantly increased its ad load in recent years, and for occasional viewers.