Google and YouTube push back against ad blockers

A lawsuit accused Google of tracking Chrome users' even when they had switched to "Incognito".

A lawsuit accused Google of tracking Chrome users' even when they had switched to "Incognito". Photo: Getty

YouTube is deliberately slowing things down for people using an ad-blocking extension, in hopes of getting them to enable ads, or have people switch to premium.

The video streaming platform is owned by Google, which will be cracking down on ad blockers over the coming months.

Earlier this week, Android Authority reported that YouTube had introduced a delay for loading videos on browsers like Firefox and Edge, but some Google Chrome users reported they had noticed the delay on their browser.

In a statement to the publication, a YouTube spokesperson confirmed people who use an ad blocker may experience delays, regardless of the browser.

‘To support a diverse ecosystem of creators globally and allow billions to access their favourite content on YouTube, we’ve launched an effort to urge viewers with ad blockers enabled to allow ads on YouTube or try YouTube Premium for an ad-free experience,” the spokesperson told Android Authority.

“Users who have ad blockers installed may experience suboptimal viewing, regardless of the browser they are using.”

YouTube’s main source of revenue is advertising, however, it also makes money through its subscription service YouTube Premium, which is ad-free for a cost of $16.99 per month, and YouTube Music, which is $10.99 per month.

Users who upload content onto YouTube do get a cut of the revenue through partnership programs, if they meet the criteria.

pictured is the YouTube logo

YouTube is loading videos slower for people using ad blockers.

Google moves forward with new software

Earlier this month, Google announced it would be pushing forward with Manifest V3, which was paused last year, due to concerns it would affect some of Chrome’s extensions.

Google initially intended to shut off Manifest V2 in January, which would have influenced several extensions on its browser, including ad blockers.

The pause was to address developer feedback and “deliver better solutions to migration issues” and now Google has come up with a number of changes which it says has been supported by extension developers.

Among those who expressed support for Manifest V3 was Andrey Meshkov, the CTO of AdGuard, which is an ad-blocking extension.

“With Manifest V3, we’ve observed the immense effort that browser teams (Chrome in particular, but also other browsers) are putting into working on a unified platform, and I see how they are listening to the feedback from extension developers,” Meshkov said.

“As always, migrating to a new platform is a large undertaking, but we’re very hopeful that the new unified platform will bring substantial benefits to the entire browser extensions ecosystem, and that ad blockers like us will be able to continue being up to the task and further improve.”

But Alexei Miagkov from the Electronic Frontier Foundation had a different view and said the changes presented by Google were helpful but limited.

“These are helpful changes, but they are tweaks to a limited-by-design system,” Miagkov told The Verge.

“The big problem remains the same: If extensions can’t innovate, users lose and trackers win … We now all depend on Google to keep evolving the API to keep up with advertisers and trackers.”

Come June 2024, Google will begin disabling Manifest V2, with extensions running on the software being disabled.

“We will gradually roll out this change, gathering user feedback and collecting data to make sure Chrome users understand the change and what actions they can take to find alternative, up-to-date extensions,” Google said.

“We will communicate with developers throughout the rollout, and we will continue to closely monitor feedback during this process.

“We expect it will take at least a month to observe and stabilise the changes in pre-stable before expanding the rollout to stable channel Chrome, where it will also gradually roll out over time.

“The exact timing may vary depending on the data collected, and during this time, we will keep you informed about our progress.”

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