HomeWinBuzzer NewsYouTube: Ad Blockers Struggle with New Server-Side Ad Injection

YouTube: Ad Blockers Struggle with New Server-Side Ad Injection

YouTube´s server-side technique against adblockers involves embedding ads into the video stream before it reaches users.

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YouTube has shifted to server-side ad injection, a method that incorporates ads directly into video streams, according to the developers of the popular SponsorBlock adblocker for YouTube.

In the past, utilized client-side ad injection, delivering ads through scripts executed on viewers' devices. This made it easier for ad blockers to disable these scripts. SponsorBlock, which utilizes crowd-sourced data to skip sponsored content in videos, did not interfere with ads directly.

YouTube has started experimenting with countermeasures against adblockers last Year. Last May, some users noticed YouTube videos to automatically skip to the end when having an adblocker active.

How Server-Side Ad Injection Works

YouTube´s server-side technique against adblockers involves embedding ads into the video stream before it reaches users. YouTube sends a continuous stream that includes both the main content and advertisements, blurring the lines that ad blockers previously leveraged. This stream comprises numerous small segments controlled by a manifest file that dictates playback. When a video is chosen, YouTube delivers a playlist featuring both content and ad segments, complicating ad detection and removal.

Effect on Ad Blockers and Extensions

Server-side ad injection poses challenges for tools like SponsorBlock, which relies on exact timestamps to skip sponsored content. The new method alters these timestamps, making it tougher to accurately bypass ads. As a provisional measure, SponsorBlock is currently blocking submissions from browsers affected by this new technique to prevent data corruption. The extension's developers aim to create new ways to calculate ad durations using metadata and YouTube's user interface.

General ad blockers, such as uBlock Origin, may also struggle with this new method. These tools must now develop advanced detection algorithms and utilize metadata and pattern recognition to identify ads based on abrupt changes in audio or visual content. The efficiency of these tools could differ depending on the browser, with Firefox-based browsers potentially providing better support.

Impact on Third-Party YouTube Clients

Third-party YouTube downloaders and clients like YT-DLP or NewPipe must also adjust to this change. These clients already face compatibility issues due to YouTube's recent sign-in requirement for viewing videos, and server-side ad injection adds to their challenges.

Despite the hurdles, SponsorBlock developers remain hopeful about continuing to offer their services. SponsorBlock and similar tools, such as DeArrow, which helps skip unwanted video segments, are working on new methods to detect and bypass ads, although this will require additional effort.

Markus Kasanmascheff
Markus Kasanmascheff
Markus is the founder of WinBuzzer and has been playing with Windows and technology for more than 25 years. He is holding a Master´s degree in International Economics and previously worked as Lead Windows Expert for Softonic.com.