Youtube Ad Blocker Crackdown Intensifies With New Measures Against Third-Party Apps

Youtube application screengrab

YouTube is stepping up its efforts to combat the use of ad blockers, particularly those that operate through third-party applications. This initiative, part of the Google-owned video-sharing platform’s broader strategy, seeks to promote its paid subscription service, YouTube Premium.

The company announced on April 15 that users employing third-party ad-blocking applications might encounter problems like buffering or receive messages indicating that content is unavailable on their app. YouTube’s community update explained that its terms of service prohibit such practices because they deprive content creators of deserved revenue. “Ads on YouTube help support creators and let billions of people around the world use the streaming service,” the company stated.

To offer an ad-free viewing experience, YouTube promotes its Premium service, which is available in India at various pricing tiers: Rs 129 per month for individual subscriptions, Rs 79 for students, and Rs 189 for a family plan that includes up to five members.

YouTube also emphasized that it only allows third-party apps to access its API if they adhere to its API Services Terms of Service. The platform warned that it would act against any apps found in violation of these terms to protect its ecosystem, including its creators and viewers.

The reinforcement of these measures follows YouTube’s global campaign against ad blockers that started in October, after initial tests in June 2023. During these tests, YouTube began to block videos for users with active ad blockers, suggesting they whitelist YouTube or disable the ad blocker altogether.

This approach was a response to a decline in advertising revenue, which fell 2.6 percent to $6.69 billion in the first quarter of 2023—part of a downward trend over three consecutive quarters amid a global advertising slump triggered by economic instability.

Despite these challenges, YouTube’s advertising revenues rebounded sharply, rising 15.5 percent to $9.2 billion by the fourth quarter of 2023.

In a further update in February 2024, YouTube reported that it had exceeded 100 million paid subscribers across its Premium and Music services, up from 80 million in November 2022. Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai also highlighted in January that Google’s total subscription business, which includes YouTube Premium, had achieved over $15 billion in annual revenues.