As annoying as ads can be, we have to credit YouTube’s relentless ad-blocking crackdown and the dedication with which they’ve been pursuing their right to advertise. YouTube’s anti-ad-blocking efforts began to ramp up late last year when the company began targeting users with ad blockers on their browsers. This time around, the company is moving against third-party apps that allow users to enjoy YouTube’s premium features without having to pay for it, an ad-free experience guaranteed. The YouTube crackdown on Vanced, one such third-party app, has been a long time coming and it’s quite surprising that the company has allowed the popular app to carry on for this long.

YouTube third-party ad blocker

YouTube Ad-Blocking Crackdown Underway

YouTube, and its parent company Google by extension, rely heavily on ad revenue in order to run the business. According to Alphabet’s Fourth Quarter and Fiscal Year 2023 Result, Google’s YouTube ad revenue grew by 15 percent in Q4, rising all the way up to $9.2 billion. The company’s overall ad revenue went up to $65.5 billion, signaling an 11 percent year-over-year growth. These numbers are enough of an indication that YouTube makes big money off of advertising and anything that impedes that is a problem that needs to be addressed.

YouTube’s ire against third-party ad blockers rose to a crescendo in November last year, when users with these ad blockers found themselves unable to play a video until they turned their ad blocker extension off. Initially, users were able to dismiss the popup that came up on their screen and continue watching the video, but soon the popup refused to be dismissed. “Ad blockers are not allowed on YouTube” the message read, and viewers were given the option of allowing ads on YouTube or trying out YouTube Premium instead. 

Many users have resented the moves as YouTube ads seem to have gotten longer over the last few months. Many also find that the number of ads has significantly increased, some finding 3-4 ads where they used to find only 1-2. These ads are also increasingly becoming unskippable, and since the YouTube ad-blocking crackdown, more users have turned to services like Vanced than ever before.

YouTube Ad-Blocking Efforts Ramp Up—No More Third-Party Apps

YouTube’s crackdown on Vanced is not one that is surprising—these apps let viewers skip ads and have a premium experience for free. Technically, YouTube’s move against Vanced already did the damage it intended to do back in 2022 when the creators of the app announced that their project was going to be discontinued. While they did not formally announce that YouTube had taken any legal action against them, it was implied in their decision to shut shop. Since then, the app has still remained functional for those who already had it, but the download links were removed from the website with no further updates from the team.

With two years of continued functioning under its wing, it seems the saga of YouTube Vanced will be ending soon. YouTube ad blocker third-party apps will now see buffering issues or an error message will appear that says “The following content is not available on this app.” These apps may find a workaround soon enough, but YouTube might not back down from the fight too easily. 

“We want to emphasize that our terms don’t allow third-party apps to turn off ads because that prevents the creator from being rewarded for viewership, and Ads on YouTube help support creators and let billions of people around the world use the streaming service. We also understand that some people prefer an entirely ad-free experience, which is why we offer YouTube Premium.”

Users have expressed their disdain for these YouTube initiatives against ad-blocking efforts time and again, but leaving the platform is quite difficult when there’s nothing else quite like it online. 

With platforms like Twitter/X doing their best to draw creators like Mr. Beast in, YouTube might find its creators shifting platforms soon if their audience is migrating away from the platform anyway. Now that might be a bit of a stretch—moving to other platforms is not nearly as rewarding for creators—but there are enough signs of this being a problem for the future if Twitch, Kick, and other platforms get their marketing and profit-sharing right.