Thursday, May 11, 2023

YouTube fighting ad blockers

Some YouTube users have been getting notices about ad blockers, according to an online report. This appears to be a big deal. I'm a little out of the loop on this for a couple of reasons.

Let's start with the report, then I'll get to why I wasn't aware of this.

A report on 9to5Google says it picked up word that YouTube had begun checking for ad blockers, and was preventing viewership of its content as a result.

A Redditor first spotted earlier this week that, on trying to use, a pop-up appeared saying that ad blockers are not allowed on YouTube. Videos were blocked from streaming unless the user then allowed YouTube ads or signed up for YouTube Premium, the subscription service that allows users to watch content on YouTube without ads.

It's a surprising message to see, given that YouTube hasn't addressed ad blockers for years and years now. The message adds that "ads allow YouTube to stay free for billions of users worldwide."

A YouTube employee has since confirmed to the r/YouTube moderation team that, for now, this is just an “experiment.” For now, YouTube is only testing blocking ad blockers.

I actually watch YouTube a bit, and I've not seen the message. I don't use ad-blockers. Well, I do and I don't. It's complicated. Let me explain.

On my personal browser, I do not employ an ad-blocker. I am okay with Websites using ads to support their content. However, I am not okay with being tracked. I have an anti-tracking solution employed that could impact ads, although blocking ads is not what I'm trying to do.

While I don't run an ad blocker on my browser, I do have a Pi Hole setup on my home network. And while Pi Hole if known for blocking ads, it actually has other functions, including the function I want. I'm not running the standard ad-blocking lists on Pi Hole. Rather, I'm running tracker blocking lists. If there is tracking code embedded on the Website, it gets filtered out.

If a Website has ads, and they aren't tracking, I get the ads. I'm good with that. I only block trackers.

All of that adds up to one reason I wouldn't see the message on YouTube. There is one other reason: I already subscribe to YouTube Premium.

YouTube Premium by itself isn't something to which I'd normally subscribe. However, it does offer a bonus that makes it worthwhile to me. YouTube Music is included with YouTube Premium. I've been subscribing to YouTube Music as part of YouTube Premium, and have been looking to that as an alternative to SirusXM in the car.

The downside of this is that I've not seen if the message is in place for Pi Hole users. I could log out of YouTube Premium and see if I get the message, and I may. But I probably won't.

My Streaming Life contains ads, unless they are tracking ads. If the content were to detect and block content because of Pi Hole, I'd figure out how to deal with it. I've not had to, and I'm good to go for now.

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