YouTube has helped adblockers woo new users – AdGuard
YouTube’s anti-adblock policy hasn’t deterred users from using adblockers.
In May, YouTube initiated a crackdown on viewers using adblockers. Essentially, the video streaming giant aimed to compel its users either to watch the ads on its free version or to go ad-free for a subscription fee (starting from $13.99 in the US).
Initially limited to a handful of users, it then expanded its anti-adblock policy to all users worldwide, sparking an uproar among users who relied on adblockers to limit trackers and other privacy-intruding scripts.
“YouTube and adblockers have never, and understandably so, been on friendly terms. Like many other Google-owned services, YouTube has been making the bulk of its money by showing targeted ads that are embedded directly in the user-generated content,” said AdGuard, an adblocking company.
They found the move unsurprising, given that many other service providers have taken steps to prohibit the use of adblockers on their sites.
Given its size (2.5 billion monthly users), it's natural that YouTube’s policy grabbed the media’s attention, with headlines forecasting a doomsday scenario for adblockers.
Has YouTube killed adblockers? If not, what’s the impact?
When YouTube first announced its policy, there were what AdGuard called “panic uninstalls,” but they didn’t last long. Adblockers took countermeasures to essentially counter YouTube's blocking of adblocking software.
YouTube has modified its adblocking detection methods several times a day, and adblockers have attempted to keep in step with the changes.
Between June and August, when YouTube’s crusade was in full swing, the number of active users of the AdGuard Adblocker extension for Chrome dropped by about 8%. The new policy was taking a toll on adblockers. However, soon after, as per AdGuard, the trend reversed – the slump was offset by increased demand in the second half of the year.
The period of turbulence, during which adblocking service providers registered a spike in uninstalls, was brief and lasted about a month. However, at the same time, the number of installs started growing.
“It may well be that the way adblockers' woes were amplified in the media inadvertently boosted their popularity and helped them woo new users,” explained AdGuard.
A number of adblockers work perfectly fine on YouTube, yet the clash between the video giant and privacy advocates seems to be far from over.
Privacy campaigner Alexander Hanff has complained to the European Commission, accusing YouTube of breaching the law and violating EU citizens’ privacy.
“The script that [YouTube] deploys is detecting what software people are running on their machines or what behavior their browser is exhibiting in relation to their private activities. It's not okay. It's illegal,” Hanff said.
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