YouTube test threatens to block viewers if they continue using ad blockers

The experiment is meant to urge users to disable their ad blockers or subscribe to YouTube Premium.


YouTube is looking to take a more aggressive approach in preventing viewers from using ad blockers while watching videos on its platform. As BleepingComputer reports, people have been posting screenshots on social networks like Reddit that show a pop-up notice warning them that their player will be blocked after three videos.

The warning says YouTube will block their ability to play videos on the platform unless they disable their ad blocker or add the website to their white list. "Ads allow YouTube to stay free for billions of users worldwide," the notice continues. To go ad-free, the company tells users to get a YouTube Premium subscription so "creators can still get paid." Prior to these warnings, YouTube only showed popups to ad blocker users, reminding them that it's against the website's TOS. Eventually, it added a timer to the notices to ensure viewers take the time to read them.

The website has confirmed to BleepingComputer that the new alerts are part of an experiment. A spokesperson told the publication that YouTube is "running a small experiment globally that urges viewers with ad blockers enabled to allow ads on YouTube or try YouTube Premium." They said that YouTube might temporarily disable playback "[i]n extreme cases, where viewers continue their use of ad blockers." The spokesperson added that they will only disable playback "if viewers ignore repeated requests to allow ads on YouTube," though it's unclear if that means YouTube won't automatically block playback after a viewer watches three videos and will give them more opportunities to comply.

At the moment, this new approach only affects a small number of users, and YouTube didn't say how many people and regions are part of the test. The website, which makes most of its money from ads, has seen its ad revenue decline over the past three quarters, so we won't be surprised if this test expands to more users around the world should it turn out to be effective.