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YouTube Cracks Down On Blocking Ad Blockers

YouTube has “launched a global effort” in its war against ad blockers, confirmed a report in The Verge. 

The crackdown comes after YouTube introduced new ad formats to the platform, such as unskippable 30-second ads on its TV app and longer but less frequent ad breaks.

Revenue boost – one way or the other

The video giant wants more users to either allow ads or pay for its $13.99 a month YouTube Premium, and has been sending viewers with blockers enabled messages telling them to disable their ad blocker and allow ads from YouTube. YouTube has even said it will disable playback for repeat offenders, although this will only happen in the most serious circumstances.

YouTube also says that ad blockers violate its terms of service. 

Christopher Lawton, Communications Manager, YouTube, via The Verge

“Ads support a diverse ecosystem of creators globally and allow billions to access their favorite content on YouTube.”

What is YouTube Premium?

YouTube Premium is a paid-for subscription service that turns YouTube into an ad-free platform that lets subscribers play videos in the background and offline. If you’ve ever tried to watch a YouTube video on the move, without exiting the app, you’ll know how difficult that can be and YouTube Premium is a way to solve those issues. It also gives subscribers access to YouTube Music.

Additionally, Premium provides a ‘continue watching’ mode, picture-in-picture ability and the ability to queue videos on mobile devices, among other things.

Good or bad for brands?

The change has a bit of a ‘good news, bad news’ flavour about it. It’s good because it should help improve the reach of YouTube adverts and show off your product or service to more people. However, it could be bad because people who couldn’t care less about what you’re selling could be shown your ad, which means wasted ad spend.

Of course, this should be good for content creators and the entire YouTube ecosystem. Marketers will certainly hope that in this case and that what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

A potential privacy concern

YouTube might have gone in all guns blazing with its ad blocker stance. Still, it could run foul of European Union online privacy regulation after privacy expert Alexander Hanff filed a complaint in October arguing that the ad blocker is an invasion of privacy – reported The Verge.

Alexander Hanff, via The Verge

“AdBlock detection scripts are spyware — there is no other way to describe them and as such it is not acceptable to deploy them without consent. I consider any deployment of technology which can be used to spy on my devices is both unethical and illegal in most situations.”

The European Commission has confirmed the scripts which detect ad blockers fall under Article 5.3 of the ePrivacy Directive. That means websites must ask for user consent before storing or accessing information. However, a later decision seemed to state a provider had the right to see if a user was utilising an ad blocker.

Keep an eye on this one, which will probably run and run as it moves through the motions of European bureaucracy. 

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