YouTube admits to throttling adblock users

  • YouTube users have been reporting that videos are loading slower with internet browsers that aren’t Google Chrome.
  • An official statement from YouTube says that instead, it is users with adblockers who may “experience suboptimal viewing.”
  • YouTube began testing an adblock blocker earlier this year.

On Monday, users on Reddit were sharing videos and reporting that YouTube would load faster on certain browsers compared to others, specifically that Firefox and Microsoft Edge would load slower compared to Google Chrome.

One user went as far as to show that YouTube allegedly included an artificial five-second load time for non-Google browsers. Seeing as YouTube is a Google-owned company, it was initially believed that this was an attempt to sway users towards Chrome.

However, an official statement from YouTube sent to Android Authority tells of something different.

“To support a diverse ecosystem of creators globally and allow billions to access their favorite content on YouTube, we’ve launched an effort to urge viewers with ad blockers enabled to allow ads on YouTube or try YouTube Premium for an ad free experience. Users who have ad blockers installed may experience suboptimal viewing, regardless of the browser they are using,” the statement from a YouTube spokesperson reads.

The last part of the statement all but confirms that YouTube is now actively trying to dissuade users with adblock software towards paying for Premium, which offers a no-ad viewing experience for a monthly subscription fee, via manufacturing a worse experience for these users.

YouTube users first saw the video streamer’s attempts at throttling adblock users in May this year, when some users reported a pop-up telling them that viewing with adblockers was not allowed.

“We’re running a small experiment globally that urges viewers with ad blockers enabled to allow ads on YouTube or try YouTube Premium,” YouTube told BleepingComputer in June.

This experiment told users that the “video player will be blocked after 3 videos” if they were found to be using an adblocker. It seems now instead of targetted pop-ups, YouTube is simply including a five-second pause before loading every video if you have an adblocker on.

Users digging into how this delay is happening found a new, small snippet of code in the YouTube website’s JavaScript:


But it has not been confirmed if the code actually causes the delay or not. It may be that the code actually tries to load a five-second advert before a video plays, every time that a video is loaded from a link, for example.

It is possible that the platform could gradually make the watching experience worse for adblock users in order to lure them towards Premium. Similar to the technique used by Spotify to gain subscribers ie. to slow boil the frog.

But this is just our conjecture at this point.

YouTube’s official position is that adblockers take away from its ability to pay creators via ad revenues or through a share of Premium subscriptions, despite owner Alphabet having a market cap of $1.71 trillion. Users with adblockers should expect their YouTube experience to consistently worsen from here on out.

[Image – Photo by NordWood Themes on Unsplash]


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