Shawn Lim
Nov 7, 2023

YouTube expands anti-ad blockers test: Good news for marketers?

Should marketers capitalise on the mass un-installments of ad blockers on YouTube as the platform expands a test to ban ad blockers?

(L-R) Niraj Nagpal, Vivek Ramachandran and Gordan Domlija
(L-R) Niraj Nagpal, Vivek Ramachandran and Gordan Domlija

YouTube has expanded a test launched in June, that could significantly alter the viewing experience for those using ad blockers.

The Google-owned video platform is cracking down on online ad blockers by blocking users from watching videos if they use such tools. Users who have ad blockers installed will see a message asking them to disable them or whitelist YouTube. 

YouTube started testing this new measure in June, but it has become more widespread in recent weeks,

According to multiple reports, ad-blocking services such as AdGuard and Ghostery have reported a surge in uninstalls as well as customer complaints directly related to YouTube's policy.

YouTube’s move to ban ad blockers could see marketers adjusting their strategies to capitalise on the potential increase in ad visibility while maintaining a positive user experience.

“Marketers should seize this opportunity by crafting ads that are highly contextual and relevant to the viewer's interests, ensuring that both the ad content and the landing page resonate with the user's current online experience,” Vivek Ramachandran, the founder of SquareX, tells Campaign.

However, Niraj Nagpal, a fractional ad tech and martech consultant and ex-Amazon employee, notes ad blocking is not a new phenomenon by any means. However, as consumers understand the value exchange of the internet and publishers re-emphasize customer experience over intrusive ads, spam and ad loads, the use of blockers will plateau and decrease, according to Nagpal. 

“This latest policy change should not concern marketers too much. Given the wider challenges regarding data, privacy, identity, brand safety, etc., marketers have bigger tasks to tackle than platforms turning unmonetised users into a reachable audience,” Nagpal tells Campaign.

“If marketers focus on investing in quality publishers and platforms that allow for third-party verification, instead of cheap impressions, they will be in good standing with their target audiences.”

Gordan Domlija, the co-founder and managing partner of Elucidate X, adds it is important to note that not all users who employ ad blockers are against all forms of advertising. Some users are simply looking for a more user-friendly and secure online experience.

He explains that just because the walls are down as platforms get the upper hand in unblocking adblockers, this does not make these concerns any less legitimate.

“Platforms do not take this into account because they are focused on their advertising revenue, and applying their technology to stop any ‘leakage’,” Domlija tells Campaign.

“While there is a moral reciprocity in advertising, users get free access to content in exchange for exposure to ads, that should not mean anything and everything goes as part of this tacit agreement. Platforms and advertisers have a responsibility to work together to create a more cooperative, sustainable, and user-friendly internet.”

Domlija urges marketers to consider working together to create a user-friendly internet in their broader approach. He explains it is not just about creating engaging content but also about utilising technology to target better, track and measure advertising.

“Holding platforms and their agencies to account for the quality and quantity of their advertising, shifting focus and payment to metrics that prioritise engagement over volume of ads served, these would be good starting points,” says Domlija.

Campaign Asia

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