YouTube is Testing Server-side Ads to Bypass Ad Blockers

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Key Takeaways

  • YouTube is experimenting with server-side ads to bypass ad blockers.
  • This means ads will form part of the streaming video rather than being delivered separately.
  • It will also effectively render most ad blockers useless.

YouTube is testing server-side ad injection in its latest move in the war against ad blockers, according to 9to5Google.

Right now, client-side ads are easy for ad blockers to intercept, as they’re delivered separately to desktop or mobile devices. The new move sees ads delivered server-side, as part of the streaming content, meaning ad blockers won’t work.

According to a tweet from SponsorBlock, an ad-blocking extension, all timestamps are now offset by the ad times, making ad blocking using the extension impossible.

Though these new plans are still in testing, some Reddit users have already reported issues with their ad blockers.

In a statement to TechCrunch, Google said the new update could cause a “suboptimal” experience for those using ad blockers, reiterating that the use of these third-party tools breached its Terms of Service. It also encouraged users to subscribe to YouTube Premium for an ad-free experience.

So far, the company is staying quiet about exactly how ad insertion is being handled and what changes are being made to how it serves ads.

This isn’t YouTube’s first tactical move in its war on ad blockers. Over the past year, it has been working behind the scenes to target browser extensions and third-party clients. In April, the company cracked down on mobile ad blockers, with many users of third-party blockers seeing a message stating, “The following content is not available on this app.”

Last year, it rolled out a pop-up message that meant users with ad blockers couldn’t watch videos without disabling their blocking software.