YouTube experiments with ad blocker detection on the platform

Some YouTube visitors are getting pop-up warnings to disable ad blockers as part of a new experiment

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YouTube may soon deny service to devices with ad blockers as it begins experimenting with ad blocker detection on the platform. “Ad blockers are not allowed on YouTube'', the video-sharing site warned some of its visitors who use ad-blocking software. A screenshot of the warning first surfaced on Reddit this week, followed by confirmation from YouTube.

The pop-up encourages users to allow ads on YouTube or buy YouTube Premium. Currently, users can ignore the warning and resume browsing as usual.

But YouTube wants users to sit through ads or shell out $11.99 for premium. “Ads allow YouTube to stay free for billions of users worldwide. You can go ad-free with YouTube Premium, and creators can still get paid from your subscription”, the message reads. YouTube’s premium service — which also offers background play, downloads, and YouTube Music — gained 30 million subscribers in 2022, bringing the total to 80 million.

YouTube Premium expanded its subscriber base by 30 million in 2022, ballooning the overall count to 80 million.

YouTube later responded to the r/YouTube moderation team, confirming that it’s running a global experiment to test ad blocker detection on the platform. The test is small-scale, and only some visitors will encounter the warning pop-up. "Ad blocker detection is not new, and other publishers regularly ask viewers to disable ad blockers," a YouTube representative told BleepingComputer. But the representative didn't give any further details — the expected duration of its run or the number of participant users.

For now, it remains unclear if the anti-ad-blocker measures will extend to the entire user base; or if visitors will be able to sidestep the warning pop-up in the future.

Ad blocker detection isn’t the only ad-related experiment YouTube has conducted in recent months. Until September 2022, YouTube was serving up to 10 unskippable ads per video break. YouTube Vanced, an Android app that blocked YouTube ads, was also taken down in early 2022 -- here is a list of the best alternatives for Vanced former Vanced users can try. Lastly, the platform pulled the plug on intrusive overlay ads earlier this year.

If the previous instances are any guide, users can expect the experiment to last a few months at the very least. But it's uncertain whether the experiment will ultimately result in large-scale implementation of the anti-ad-blocking features.