The YouTube Adpocalypse was a monumental time in the company’s history, and the new world of advertising is just as suddenly upon us, with YouTube blocking ad blockers now. You’ve likely already witnessed the notifications for yourself and wondered if the YouTube ad blocker prompt is anything to worry about but as things stand, it’s likely that YouTube is not about to back down and let you have an uninterrupted experience anymore—not unless you’re willing to try YouTube Premium.

YouTube Blocking Ad Blockers: The Walls Are Closing in on Free Content

(Image credit – YouTube)

What’s up with YouTube Blocking Ad Blockers? 

If you haven’t been on the platform in a while, YouTube is phasing out access to content unless you are willing to disable YouTube ad blockers when you access the site. On opening up a video, users will be met with a pop-up that states “Ad blockers are not allowed on YouTube”. Users have a choice—allow ads on YouTube or try YouTube Premium. 

YouTube Blocking Ad Blockers: The Walls Are Closing in on Free Content

Initially, most users were able to dismiss the popup and continue watching the video while some were allowed to watch 3 videos after which the video player would become disabled. But across the globe, both exceptions now seem to be phasing out. For users who have enjoyed the ad-free experience so far, the option to try YouTube Premium might be more tempting now but the numbers aren’t evident yet. What started as a small experiment in June has now reached users everywhere but why is YouTube distancing its user base like this?

YouTube’s History of Monetization

It’s obvious that both YouTube and its creators thrive on ad revenue and things have been this way since 2006, a year after the company’s appearance. After Google’s takeover and the DoubleClick acquisition, YouTube evolved from a video-sharing platform to a monetizable, advertising platform as well. The YouTube partner program has been in play since 2007 and 2010 saw the beginning of YouTube mobile ads. With ads before, after, and in between videos, YouTube was able to boost ads everywhere you looked. Statista reports that the advertising revenue generated by the company in 2022 accounted for 11.35 percent of Google’s total revenue and YouTube’s annual ad revenue added up to 29.24 billion U.S. dollars. This should simplify why YouTube blocking ad blockers was a natural course of action. 

Ad blockers allow access to content without disruptive advertisements added to the mix, whether that’s video ads, images, or web page banners. According to Insider Intelligence, 31 percent of US adults use ad blockers for privacy protection online. A YouTube Premium subscription is not as appealing when you can just block ads for free. 

YouTube Ad Blockers News Paired with a YouTube Premium Price Hike

If you’re looking for confirmation about YouTube blocking ad blockers, then yes the company is making a global move against it. It’s almost surprising that the move hasn’t come earlier, as many platforms, especially news pages that also rely on ad revenue, prohibit access to content unless ad blockers are disabled. The move appears to be a calculated push for users to try YouTube Premium, just as the news has arrived with announcements of a YouTube Premium price hike.

With users both reluctant to deal with ads or pay for Premium, ad blockers provide a good escape route, making it more unlikely that they would invest in YouTube Premium. To take away the choice entirely YouTube is now guiding its viewers to submit to a YouTube Premium price hike or suffer through the YouTube ad blocker restrictions and the multiple ads they have queued for you. The price hike for Premium, primarily the family plan, will apply to Argentina, Australia, Austria, Chile, Germany, Poland, and Turkey to start.

The End of YouTube Premium Lite

If you thought this YouTube Premium price hike was the only move the company was making to convince you to try YouTube Premium, you’re wrong. Earlier this year, the company announced the end of its YouTube Premium Lite plan which was launched around 2021, in certain European countries. The plan did not offer as many features as the more expensive YouTube Premium plan, with features like background playback or offline download being unavailable. However, viewers could still enjoy an ad-free experience with the YouTube Premium Lite offer. As of 25 October, however, the plan is no longer available.

Additionally, users from all over the world have been complaining about an increase in YouTube ads. Some experience multiple ads at once, others have to deal with frequent other unskippable ads, and some even report that the ads have gotten longer. From Quora to Reddit, there are multiple complaints about YouTube’s fast-paced shift away from creator and viewer-centric policies but it appears these will remain unattended to as the saga of YouTube YouTube blocking ad blockers continues. It is a fair ask, to pay to avail of the service, but after having access to content at the touch of an icon for years, people’s reluctance to start paying for the service is evident as well. 

Try YouTube Premium—and These Other Premium Apps as Well

The YouTube ad blocker story is not the only example of companies chasing paid, premium subscribers in full force. Spotify has recently moved to block almost all of its features for free users in India in an attempt to goad users into getting a Spotify Premium subscription. Unsurprisingly, even with the very limited features, users still have to listen to ads as well. Earlier in May, ByteDance’s Resso app also became a paid-only service. More companies will likely follow this path soon, and more globally.

Netflix has already made its move into ad promotion with its ad-supported plans, with 15 million active users already, according to Advertising President Amy Reinhard. There are updates coming out for binge-watchers to see an ad-free episode if they watch three episodes in a row, a clear indication of the company’s full commitment to bringing in more users if full-premium subscriptions are still not preferred by them.

News of YouTube blocking ad blockers has led to significant public outcry. Paired with news of the YouTube Premium price hike and cancellation of YouTube Premium lite, the disappointment is immeasurable. It will probably be a while before we see the full effect of the move and get measurable data for how many people try YouTube Premium now. Will users make the switch or adamantly resist the forces at work?