YouTube, owned by Alphabet Inc., has started testing a new feature that blocks users who are using ad-blockers. The test was first talked about by a Reddit user and later confirmed by someone who works at YouTube.
Users with ad-blockers turned on have seen a message on the YouTube website. This message tells them that ad-blockers are not allowed on YouTube. It also says, “ads let YouTube stay free for billions of users around the world”. After seeing this message, users can choose to let YouTube show ads or they can sign up for YouTube Premium. YouTube Premium is a paid service that lets users watch videos without any ads.
YouTube and Chrome Tightening Their Grip Against Ad-Blockers
YouTube hasn't really done anything about ad blockers for a long time. The test could mean that YouTube is thinking about changing its rules. This could affect how users watch videos and how YouTube makes money.
The timing of this test is interesting as YouTube Premium had 80 million subscribers in 2022, which is a record high. The decision to stop ad-blockers could be part of Alphabet Inc.´s plan to focus more on its paid services in 2023.
Google has had problems with ad blockers for a long time. In 2016, Google stopped allowing apps that block ads from being on the Play Store but later reversed the decision. Google also made changes to Chrome that could make it harder for ad-blockers to work 2023 onwards.
The Manifest V3 update changes how network request modifications work, removing extensions' power to use dynamic filtering in order to find and block ads. Instead, the extensions will rely on a much smaller list of banned URLs, cutting the number of ads it can block back by 90% or more. This change may make it harder for ad-blockers to work effectively on Chrome.
How This Could Affect Alphabet's Earnings
If YouTube's test becomes permanent, it could help Alphabet make more money. If more people see ads, especially those using YouTube on their web browsers, Alphabet could earn more. Also, if ad-blockers are stopped, more people might sign up for YouTube Premium. This would give Alphabet a steady flow of money from these subscriptions.
Ads are very important to YouTube. They help pay creators and cover the costs of storing and showing videos. Ad-blockers can get in the way of this. That's why YouTube is testing a way to stop them.
According to Statista, approximately 50% of YouTube watch time come from mobile devices, just around 15% from web-browsers, and the rest from other devices such as smart TVs and gaming consoles. This shows that mobile devices are the dominant medium for YouTube consumption, which is not surprising given the convenience and portability of smartphones and tablets.
However, this does not mean that web browsers are irrelevant for YouTube. In fact, according to SimilarWeb, YouTube.com is sill the second most visited website in the world, with over 32 billion visits per month. Moreover, web browsers offer some features and functionalities that are not available on the mobile app, such as extensions, ad blockers, and keyboard shortcuts.
Right now, it's not sure if this will become a permanent part of YouTube. But it's clear that Alphabet is committed to making money from ads. The only way to be sure you won't see ads on YouTube might be to pay $12 per month for a Premium membership. If this plan works out, it could really help Alphabet's earnings.