Youtube is cracking down on ad blockers, bothering users with popups and, ultimately, blocking them from watching videos. The ad blockers adapt, only for Youtube to adapt to the adaptations. The most common metaphor in play is “arms race,” but to me it looks like evolution. It’s been a gruelling month for the often-volunteer creators of ad blocker apps and extensions, and they’re finding that they’re competition with one another, too.
Hundreds of thousands of users have uninstalled ad blockers in October, seemingly in connection with YouTube’s broadened crackdown, according to a report from Wired. At the same time, data shows that record-breaking numbers of people are also installing alternatives that won’t be caught in YouTube’s net.
Krzysztof Modras of Ghostery — one of the more popular ad blockers in Chrome’s extension store — says they have seen three to five times the amount of installs and uninstalls over the last month. Over 90% of those users who uninstalled the extension cited the software failing on YouTube as the reason for their decision. However, the company saw a 30% uptick in installations on Microsoft Edge, with users attempting to find a suitable alternative.
Another blocker, AdGuard, told the outlet they normally see about 6,000 uninstallations per day on Chrome, but that shot up to 11,000 per day between October 9 and the end of the month, peaking at 52,000 on October 18. However, the paid version of the extension appears to be immune to YouTube’s ban. It’s reported that the company says when people realized this, user counts increased, reaching up to 60,000 installations on October 18 and October 27.
My preferred blocker became unusable for me (FF, MacOS) and I switched to Ghostery, which is working fine.