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YouTube Steps Up ‘Cat-and-Mouse’ Game Against Ad Blockers

YouTube is reportedly increasing its efforts to keep ad blockers off of its site.

The Google-owned video platform recently began a new policy of requiring users to shut off their ad blockers or purchase a premium subscription before viewing more than just a few clips, the website Engadget reported Friday (Dec. 1).

As that report noted, this move is part of the company’s ongoing “cat-and-mouse” game against ad blockers, in which YouTube finds new ways to show ads to viewers who have ad blockers, and ad blockers come up with new methods of getting around those ads.

According to Engadget, many digital companies are making similar moves, though YouTube’s popularity just gives it more attention.

“Even when they run a test on a share of users … the number of affected people is very high, AdGuard CTO Andrey Meshkov told the publication.

The report also quotes Ghostery’s director of product and engineering Krzysztof Modras, who argues that YouTube appears to be altering its methods more than before.

“To counteract its changes to ad delivery and ad blocker detection, block lists have to be updated at minimum on a daily basis, and sometimes even more often,” Modras said. 

“While all players in the space are innovating, some ad blockers are simply unable to keep up with these changes.”

The news comes as a number of social media platforms are testing ad-free subscriptions to drive revenue. The latest of these is Snapchat, which is reportedly offering a new ad-free tier to users in Australia.

“Across the industry, social media companies are looking to subscription models to monetize their followings amid changing advertising regulations,” PYMNTS wrote last week. “Last month, X, formerly known as Twitter, announced three subscription levels: Basic, Premium and Premium+, ranging from $3 to $16 a month (or $32 to $168 annually), depending on available features. TikTok, too, is testing an ad-free monthly subscription plan.”

And last month, Meta announced it was introducing paid, ad-free monthly subscriptions to Facebook and Instagram in the European Union, the European Economic Area and Switzerland as data privacy rules in the region grow more restrictive. But for now, it is apparently unlikely that this sort of subscription program would make its way to the U.S.