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Ad Blocker Use on the Rise Amid Google and YouTube Crackdowns

What a surprise.

Photo by Leon Bublitz / Unsplash

We have recently speculated on this in one of our previous stories, and it seems like it's finally happening: ad blocker use strikes again.

As Google and YouTube intensify their efforts against ad blockers, third-party apps are feeling the heat. In recent months, a growing number of users with ad blockers have found themselves unable to watch videos. This crackdown is in line with YouTube's assertion that ad blocker usage breaches its terms of service. The platform maintains that advertisements are crucial for supporting a diverse ecosystem of creators worldwide, enabling billions to access content. This crackdown was implemented in various ways. Some users have encountered warnings about violating the platform's terms of service and some have been even blocked by YouTube from viewing any content until they disable their ad blockers. The platform has also allegedly implemented load delays, intentionally slowing down the website for those detected using ad blockers.

In light of this, a recent survey by All About Cookies provides timely insights into the current state of ad blocker usage and their public perception.

The survey revealed that a majority, 93%, of respondents are familiar with ad blockers and understand their function, but despite this widespread awareness, only 19% find ad blockers to be completely effective. Mobile users are less likely to use ad blockers compared to desktop users, with 51% of mobile users never having tried one, as opposed to 33% of desktop users.

Credit: All About Cookies

The presence of ads heavily influences how people interact with online content. Two-thirds of respondents admitted to skipping videos or avoiding websites entirely due to intrusive ads. On YouTube, in particular, users have reported an increase in unskippable ads, some of which are inappropriate or even scammy, despite YouTube's strict censorship of certain words within content.

While reducing the number of ads is the primary motivation for using ad blockers, the survey found that 59% of users also employ them to protect against malware and other security threats. Privacy concerns are another significant factor, with 54% of users citing it as a reason for using ad blockers. Additionally, performance improvements, such as faster loading times and easier navigation, were noted by 43% of respondents.

Credit: All About Cookies

The ethical implications of using ad blockers are a contentious issue. Despite knowing that ads are a primary revenue source for many websites, a majority of ad blocker users (64%) rarely or never disable their ad blockers when requested by sites. Furthermore, 52% of users reported feeling no guilt when using ad blockers on smaller sites that depend on ad revenue.

Credit: All About Cookies

The ongoing battle between ad blockers and content providers shows no signs of abating. YouTube's recent global crackdown on ad blockers has forced users to seek alternative solutions, while also pushing them towards YouTube Premium, an ad-free subscription service. Funnily enough, YouTube has raised the prices for YouTube Premium in several major markets, including Germany, Australia, and the US.

Will users pay to avoid ads? They might.

Credit: All About Cookies

Even if the proliferation of ad-free subscription services is on the rise, this survey indicates a mixed willingness to pay for such privileges. While 42% of respondents have paid for a premium subscription to avoid ads, a significant portion remains reluctant to do so. This suggests that while there's surely a market for ad-free experiences, a large segment of users still prefer free content, even if it means dealing with ads, no matter how annoying.

A poll by Android Authority also reveals a strong user preference regarding YouTube's ad policies. When asked whether they'd prefer to pay for an ad blocker that works on YouTube or for YouTube Premium, 77% of the 5,460 respondents chose to pay for an ad blocker over subscribing to YouTube Premium.

Source: Android Authority

The majority of users may seem to be reluctant to pay for YouTube Premium but, according to forecasts, a significant increase in Premium users can be expected, with an estimated 27.9 million paying subscribers by the end of 2024 (in 2020, YouTube had about 20 million paying users in the US). So even if many users favour an effective ad blocker over a Premium subscription, YouTube's Premium user base is steadily increasing.