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YouTube is deliberately ‘suboptimal’ for people using ad blockers

YouTube has admitted to intentionally creating a suboptimal experience for users employing ad blockers.

Reports of a deliberate five-second delay in loading video pages on Mozilla’s Firefox have emerged on forums like Reddit and Hacker News.

Despite initial speculation about browser specificity, YouTube has clarified that users across all platforms may encounter loading delays. This deliberate delay is part of YouTube’s ongoing campaign to discourage the use of ad blockers.

Why we care. Encouraging users to disable ad blockers on YouTube can benefit advertisers by expanding reach. However, this broader reach might increase advertising costs and result in ads reaching less valuable customers, impacting the effectiveness of the marketing strategy. Achieving a balance between reach and targeting is crucial for optimizing return on investment.

Who is impacted? Not everyone is experiencing the reported five-second delay. Attempts by some individuals to recreate the issue on both Mac and Windows machines, while logged into YouTube or not, using ad-blockers or not, and in incognito mode or not, did not result in any observed delay. However, those that are impacted do have ad blockers installed.

What YouTube is saying. A YouTube spokesperson told Business Insider:

  • “In the past week, users using ad blockers may have experienced suboptimal viewing, which included delays in loading, regardless of the browser they are using. Users who have uninstalled their ad blockers may still experience a temporary delay in loading, and should try refreshing their browser.”
  • “Ads are a vital lifeline for our creators that helps them run and grow their businesses. That’s why the use of ad blockers violates YouTube’s Terms of Service.”
  • “We’ve been urging users for some time to allow ads on YouTube or try YouTube Premium for an ad-free experience.”

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Deep dive. Read our report on YouTube’s ad blocker crackdown for more information.

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About the author

Nicola Agius

Nicola Agius is Paid Media Editor of Search Engine Land after joining in 2023. She covers paid search, paid social, retail media and more. Prior to this, she was SEO Director at Jungle Creations (2020-2023), overseeing the company’s editorial strategy for multiple websites. She has over 15 years of experience in journalism and has previously worked at OK! Magazine (2010-2014), Mail Online (2014-2015), Mirror (2015-2017), Digital Spy (2017-2018) and The Sun (2018-2020). She also previously teamed up with SEO agency Blue Array to co-author Amazon bestselling book ‘Mastering In-House SEO’.


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