Google hits YouTube ad-blockers with unskippable adverts

While some websites take a softly-softly approach to mollifying ad-blockers (tip jars, requests for donations, nice ads thanking you for not using ad-blocking software), it seems Google may have decided to play hardball. Or it has on YouTube, at any rate.

Google hits YouTube ad-blockers with unskippable adverts

This week it emerged that not only were pre-roll video ads appearing to those using ad-blockers, they were actually more intrusive than they would be for regular visitors, without the option to skip.

The way it works is actually an ironic twist on the whole ad-blocking thing. The plugin still functions, but Chrome now sees the “skip” button as the only advert on the page, which is dutifully hidden away until the visitor either whitelists YouTube or disables their ad-blocking software.adblock_youtube_not_working

Now before you get too critical of Google, a couple of things to consider: first, very simply, the company owns both the Chrome browser and the YouTube website, so it’s their prerogative. You, as the consumer, are quite free to vote with your mouse, and switch to another video site or move to another browser without a financial stake in YouTube. Google is betting that you won’t. Or rather, that you won’t do so in big enough numbers to cause it a headache.

More importantly, according to a Wall Street Journal report from earlier this year, YouTube still isn’t profitable for Google, despite the one billion viewers it attracts each month. It’s just 6% of Google’s ad sales, thanks to people viewing videos embedded on other websites, and yes – ad-blockers. It’s an expensive site to run, and becoming profitable is a serious goal.

Persistent ad-blockers were quick to find a makeshift solution: disabling the YouTube app in Chrome appears to hide adverts again – although, if the breaking was intentional, you get the impression this might only be the first shots fired in the war between publishers and ad-blockers.

UPDATE: AdBlock, one of the plugins affected claims that the problem is a bug in Chrome, rather than anything more sinister on YouTube’s side: adblock_statement

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