Google intensifies fight against YouTube adblockers

Martin Brinkmann
Apr 16, 2024

Google just announced that it is intensifying its fight against adblockers on YouTube. The message was posted to the official YouTube support website.

The writing was on the wall. Reports about changes on YouTube designed to prevent users from using adblockers started in early 2023.  Users with adblockers saw anti-adblocking prompts and Google ran several tests on YouTube to fight adblocking.

Google confirmed the crackdown on adblockers in November 2023. Affected users were given two options: turn off the adblocker on YouTube or pay for YouTube Premium.

New ways of making ads more endurable were discovered. Extensions that skip or fast forward ads appeared in extension stores.

Google did not only fight adblocking in browsers. It also is fighting against YouTube frontends, such as Invidious, and third-party YouTube apps.  Google had some success in this regard in the past. In 2022, its actions caused YouTube Vanced to be discontinued.

Google's fight against third-party apps

Today's announcement puts Google's focus on third-party apps that "violate YouTube's Terms of Service". Here, Google is focusing on apps that include ad-blocking capabilities. The company mentions none in the announcement, but it clearly took a swing at Invidious last week already.

Google warns users of these apps that their experience may deteriorate soon. They may "experience buffering issues" or see errors such as "the following content is not available on this app" when trying to watch videos.

The terms on YouTube disallow apps to "turn off ads". Turning off ads "prevents the creator from being rewarded for viewership" according to Google. It fails to mention that it is keeping a big chunk of the revenue as the maintainer of the platform.

Google suggests that YouTube users who do not want to see ads subscribe to YouTube Premium.

The company will "take appropriate action" when it finds third-party apps that violate YouTube's terms.

Closing Words

Similar to Google Search, ads have become insufferable for many users of the service. There are too many of them, they may break the viewing experience, and they may show inappropriate content.

YouTube Premium is expensive. What weights more for some users is that its functionality is severely limited when compared to third-party apps.

The cat and mouse game continues.

Do you use YouTube? Would you use it if you couldn't block ads? (via 9to5 Google)

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Google intensifies fight against YouTube adblockers
Google just announced that it is intensifying its fight against adblockers on YouTube and specifically against third-party YouTube apps.
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  1. Marvin said on April 26, 2024 at 6:02 pm

    They still don’t understand that none of these services (Invidious, Piped, etc…) even broke their ToU in the first place because they were never bound to them due to the simple fact that all of them don’t even use the official YouTube API.
    All these services do, in a nutshell, is scrape the publicly available site.
    There is really nothing YouTube can do to stop these thrid party services.
    They’re fighing a loosing battle.

  2. g31c0 said on April 20, 2024 at 3:54 am

    Commercials and ads in general should be illegal.

    They rape our minds and many are misleading.

  3. upp said on April 17, 2024 at 6:37 pm


  4. Fish said on April 17, 2024 at 3:12 pm

    So far, so good. Over the years, never encountered a single youTube ad whatsoever.

    Currently been viewing all I want, on Waterfox with uBO and BlackFog Privacy systemwide. Not sure which is blocking better or first. Wish to hear from others’ experience.

    While there’s a lot more to say, I’d like to stick to the topic on yt’s ads
    so much has been discussed.

  5. Torin Doyle said on April 17, 2024 at 11:13 am

    Despicable google up to their usual ways.

  6. Richard Steven Hack said on April 17, 2024 at 3:43 am

    yt-dlp. It’s had problems with Youtube API changes in the past, but currently it works wonders. I download 50-100 Youtube videos per day (stored for reference purposes.) Media-Downloader uses it as the backend downloader along with Aria.

    uBlock Origin has successfully dealt with previous Youtube efforts to block videos from PCs using ad blockers. It’s team can respond quickly whenever a new Youtube block method appears – usually within hours.

  7. Kaz Packman said on April 17, 2024 at 2:07 am

    This is one of the reasons why I now download YouTube videos and watch them locally with VLC player instead of watching them on the YouTube website. Not only does it bypass this nonsense, it also ensures that I have an archived copy of a video even if the account who uploaded it gets terminated and/or the video is no longer available on YouTube. Even before YouTube confirmed they were banning adblockers, I’ve been having occasional issues with buffering and error screens, so they were pretty much doing this for years before people even realized it. If YouTube bans downloaders next, I’m closing my account there and leaving the site for good.

    1. Sunny said on April 22, 2024 at 6:43 pm

      Great idea Kaz, but unless a YouTube video is something I want to refer to a lot, I don’t want to fill up my storage with YouTube videos. I use YouTube a lot, but if one tells me to disable my ad blocker, I’m outahere and don’t bother. I agree with another person who commented this prevalence of having to disable ad blockers should be illegal. And agree with your saying if they ban downloaders next, I’m leaving also.

    2. Tom Hawack said on April 17, 2024 at 11:38 am

      @Richard Steven Hack, Kaz Packman ,

      Is it that you download all YouTube videos should it be only to have a glimpse of their content?
      I happen as well to download videos for archiving and on the basis that, IMO, the video is sufficiently remarkable, informative, exceptional that I wouldn’t take the risk of not being able to access it should it ever be deleted on the servers. But if I had to consider downloading all (YouTube) videos which cross my surfing sessions, the disk would be full, not to mention that in my view such an approach is truly a waste, of time, of bandwidth …

  8. Scroogled said on April 16, 2024 at 11:20 pm

    Horrible company. I barely use YouTube anymore. I don’t watch anything on their bloated page, and if I do have to, I download the videos directly with ytdl.

  9. VioletMoon said on April 16, 2024 at 9:14 pm

    FWIW–Next DNS has a new [to me] DNS Firewall that has so many ways of blocking malicious actors and tracking and advertising that I discovered it can break at least 10% of the sites I visit; nevertheless, I am continuing to use it because some of those 10% were sites I thought I could trust. It goes far beyond what the FF browser does if setting Next DNS as the preferred DNS over HTTPS.

    Don’t know what it would do with YouTube.

  10. Ava said on April 16, 2024 at 6:32 pm

    I would never choose to watch youtube ads, but there are times when I need to watch a how-to video and don’t know what I would do in that case. I guess I would have to watch the ad(s) for that. As it stands, I will never again purchase an Android app and I don’t use Google search anymore. I block ads everywhere they can be blocked and I use frontends. I do have a household member who is glad to watch youtube with ads, does not care a bit. He also has zero ability or desire to make a purchase, so the joke is on them.

  11. Lizard said on April 16, 2024 at 4:34 pm

    I pay for it. In my opinion it’s worth paying for because I watch a lot of YouTube and listen to YouTube Music at work for 10 hours a day. So for me it’s worth it. I pay yearly which gives me a discount for at $11.50 a month.

  12. Bobo said on April 16, 2024 at 4:12 pm

    Let’s be honest, is the content on YouTube today THAT valuable…? I see more and more videos pop up on Odysee every minute, serious content creators are moving there. No, I don’t consider a girl in a bikini building a hut in snowy Alaska valuable content. I say let Google become the fastfood cesspool of garbage content like the way it’s heading now. The users who love that crap can watch ads all day. Also, the claim that they show ads so creators get paid is ridiculous, that’s not the whole truth. There also needs to be a discussion if it’s justified that someone who pretends to hear music for the first time makes videos about it and gets paid a million dollars for it, same goes for large-chested ladies that think they are guitarplayers or drummers. Oh and let’s also talk about the TRILLIONS of albums/songs that are illegally uploaded by users that Google do nothing about..other than host the files and calls it their own content that they now want to charge you for. Nope. uBlock Origin & Firefox is the way to go, and Odysee..until they too get greedy. Don’t start with the “Odysee is a NAZI platform” crap. You don’t have HAVE to watch everything you know…

    1. Bobo said on April 17, 2024 at 4:06 am

      Besides: Not succumbing to advertising is the punk rocker way of doing things. STICK IT TO THE MAN! YouTubers just want easy, copious amounts of money and try to pass their little hobby off as “work”. By not endorsing this lazy, easy money ethos that’s making our kids vain, stupid and jealous, dumbing down the whole planet’s population you’re STICKIN’ IT TO THE MAN!


  13. Tachy said on April 16, 2024 at 3:17 pm

    I never see ads. I never, sign in.

    1. boris said on April 16, 2024 at 9:27 pm

      But now you have to use VPN on Youtube to avoid signing in. Userscripts that did good job before on Youtube no longer work.

      1. Tachy said on April 17, 2024 at 6:43 am

        No I do not.

      2. boris said on April 17, 2024 at 11:23 pm

        Maybe you are lucky. I do not allow Google cookies, so if I do not use VPN, I have to dismiss every popup on every new Google/YouTube tab.

  14. Wolfie0827 said on April 16, 2024 at 1:10 pm

    One problem with premium, I have seen a few of the content creators I watch have problems with getting adds even though they are subscribed to Youtube Premium. When checking with Youtube they are told everything is working as it should (That is almost a direct quote from one email a content creator shared.)

  15. ECJ said on April 16, 2024 at 12:47 pm

    “…Similar to Google Search, ads have become insufferable for many users of the service. There are too many of them, they may break the viewing experience, and they may show inappropriate content.”

    This is the crux of it. Google and Facebook have had over twenty years to self-regulate the online advertising industry and reform it into something tolerable, however they have chosen not to do so and instead they doubled-down and decided to concentrate on increasing their already obscene amounts of profit instead.

    Under their monopoly, ads became ridiculously obnoxious with no consideration for the end user experience, they are CPU heavy, bandwidth heavy, laden with privacy-invading trackers that stalk people both online and offline in order to build profiles on them, and they are regularly used to push malware and scams with inadequate measures to prevent this. Basically, they have enshittified the entire internet and electronic devices at the expense of the masses using them.

    F#ck Google. It’s obvious the online advertising industry is incapable of regulating itself voluntarily. The only way to reel these vampiric organisations in is to take matters into our own hands – in conjunction with pushing for heavy legal regulation of the online advertising industry.

    For me personally, I would rather we took back the internet and transitioned to more decentralised “by the people, for the people” places, like the Fediverse.

  16. Iron Heart said on April 16, 2024 at 12:17 pm

    I wonder what method of blocking YouTube ads will be impossible to patch for them… We know that they have methods to deal with adblock extensions and built-in adblockers in browsers. There are also crawlers (NewPipe, SmartTube, Invidious), which they might be able to detect behaviorally. Invidious instances frequently rotate their IP addresses to evade the YouTube hammer.

    The above methods seem to be easy to moderately difficult to patch. But what about e.g. ReVanced on Android phones / tablets, which is a patched version of the official YouTube app? How would they block that one safely? Further, in some locations YouTube hasn’t rolled out ads, for example in Albania or Russia (due to the sanctions, in the latter case)… With a VPN, it is trivially easy to make YouTube believe that you reach them from those locations… If they are dead serious about this, they would also have to fight VPNs or rather specific servers of those VPNs. That will be a challenge in its own right, I don’t know of any (commercial) streaming service that has successfully locked out any and all VPNs really…

    I am steadfast in my refusal to pay for YouTube Premium, because I refuse to feed the kraken. “Go elsewhere” sounds nice and I certainly would if I could, but sadly YouTube is still basically a monopoly in the online video space. Due to them being a monopoly (with all the associated abuses) that also harvests user data, I also believe that no one must touch them with silk gloves. They want to fight, I fight back due to a lack of alternatives.

    Maybe if they have dealt with solutions like uBlock Origin, Brave, and major apps like NewPipe, they will stop this and call it a win, since this will defeat 95%+ of all adblock users. I will still be there with VPN set to an ad-free location before I ever pay Google even a dime. I promise.

    1. samurai cat said on April 16, 2024 at 9:56 pm

      Maybe someone would eventually develop qBittorrent type client app that will on surface play a YouTube video like FreeTube does but also automatically downloads YouTube videos and seeds it on p2p network via public torrent trackers or DHT as long as user wants to, essentially unofficially turning YouTube into decentralized platform via open source p2p video playing app that is almost independent of YouTube.

  17. John said on April 16, 2024 at 12:06 pm

    I don’t mind the ads, many can be skipped after a brief preview. To watch good content for free. Seems like a reasonable trade off. As long as content creators stay on YouTube it will be the platform for viewers. If I really disliked the ads, I would pay to avoid them.

    1. archie bald said on April 16, 2024 at 12:28 pm

      Sounds very sincere, very believable. Thanks for the laugh.

  18. TelV said on April 16, 2024 at 11:32 am

    The Libredirect extension loads Invidious Instances the latter of which is a list of servers run by enthusiasts to avoid watching youtube directly. There’s also Privacyredirect, but it always redirects to dark mode sites which I don’t like and don’t use for that reason.

    You do of course need Firefox or a fork of it. I use Floorp.

    I notice now on The Guardian news media site that embedded youtube videos don’t work anymore, but the simple workaround is to copy the description below the video and then use that as a search string on your favourite search engine. From there load the video and Libredirect will spring into action and Bob’s your uncle. :D

    1. Tom Hawack said on April 16, 2024 at 1:02 pm

      YouTube embedded videos on The Guardian aren’t handled here as well be it via embedded Invidious (working instances) nor by embedded Piped (working instances).

      Seems the site handles a “specially crafted” YouTube api. I’ve always had problems with that domain.
      An alternative is to visit their YouTube site instead :

      The Guardian []
      Guardian News []

      Personally I redirect YouTube to Piped and if embedded is problematic I open the redirected YouTube page instead.

  19. Tom Hawack said on April 16, 2024 at 10:17 am

    So the perspective would be YouTube with ads or YouTube Premium, non negotiable.
    Looks like anyone refusing advertisement and subscription fee is stuck.
    I don’t know if a scorpion is the only animal that can kill its ‘self’ (with its tail) when it finds no solution for its survival, but I can say that, though being a Scorpio, should I be stuck between two alternatives I both refuse I’d survive and strive for a Plan B (you know, like in the movies!)

    We’ll see how things get along.
    Right now, as I write, Invidious still works (at least [] with proxied videos = enabled, haven’t tested other Invidious instances), as well as Piped (at least some with proper settings).

    Tough times ahead perhaps for users who choose a YouTube front-end. One thing is sure : cat and mouse game seldom ends with the game. Should it with YouTube videos that I’d escape and totally abandon YouTube. But we’re not at that point yet.

    1. Iron Heart said on April 16, 2024 at 12:20 pm

      Tom my dude, if they really manage to block Invidious once and for all, you can always get a VPN, set it to, I don’t know, Albania or Russia maybe… and continue to use the official website without ads, as those locations don’t have any. That’s what I would do in retaliation. I would gladly go elsewhere, but obviously, we are talking about a de facto monopolist here.

      1. Klaas Vaak said on April 16, 2024 at 4:39 pm

        Hi Iron Heart, hi Tom, go to talk to both of you again, after a long time.
        I use FreeTube and today it still works. I don’t know if/how it will be affected. If it isI’ll try IH’s VPN trick — I am using a VPN, which does have servers in Russia and Albania.

      2. upp said on April 17, 2024 at 6:54 pm

        VPN method wont last because they just ban the whole Russia and Albania..

  20. howyoutubehasfallen said on April 16, 2024 at 8:27 am

    Its time people moved on from adtube. Rumble or X are excellent alternatives, content creators will take a hit in the migration but eventually come out on top, best of all, no censorship for ideological beliefs. Content creators can feature products that align with their base. You can help by making youtube the last place you look, same with google, stand up and make a difference. Imagine dr disrespect unleashed on rumble. Die in a fire youtube!

  21. Anonymous said on April 16, 2024 at 8:09 am

    There are better alternatives to YouTube that don’t have censorship.
    A lot of YouTube channels also stream on other platforms.

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