In a move to promote its ad-free Premium subscription option, YouTube is currently running a new experiment that blocks users from watching in-app content while ad-blocking apps are active in their browsers.
The experiment was originally reported by one Reddit user and then confirmed by YouTube, according to an article by Android Police.
The Redditor encountered a popup stating that “Ad blockers are not allowed on YouTube,” with bulleted lines reminding the user that “Ads allow YouTube to stay free for billions of users worldwide” with two choices: “Allow YouTube Ads” or “Try YouTube Premium.”Moderators of the YouTube subreddit received a message from the Youtube team confirming the popup.
It is presumed that the experiment is limited to only a handful of users but could “indicate the future direction of the app in combating ad blockers to maximize promotional opportunities,” writes Andrew Hutchinson of SocialMediaToday.
Last year, YouTube parent company Google reported that the video-sharing platform's Premium subscribership grew to 80 million users, a record-breaking number for the app, and said it would invest more into its subscription offerings in 2023.
Based on the popup experiment confirmed by YouTube, it’s possible that the company plans on doing so by making it harder for users to access its free offerings -- a move aligned with Google's ongoing strategy of fighting off ad0blocking technologies, which it has been doing for years.
In 2016, for example, the company banned purpose-built blocking apps from the Play Store, then continued the battle through continued updates to Google Chrome, despite denying its anti-ad-blocking intentions.
However, overall, YouTube seems to be committed to its ad-supported revenue model while pushing for more Premium subscribers, eager to ensure that the only way users avoid seeing ads is by paying $12 a month.