Did ad blockers survive YouTube's offensive? Letting numbers talk

TL;DR version:

  • From June to August, the number of active users of the AdGuard Ad Blocker extension for Chrome dropped by about 8%. But in late August, the trend reversed. The temporary slump in user growth was offset by the increased demand in the second half of the year.
  • After a brief period of turbulence that lasted about a month, we saw the trend stabilize. And while the daily number of uninstalls was still higher than before YouTube’s crackdown, it remained consistently lower than the number of daily installs.
  • After media reports and YouTube’s own statements implied that ad blockers were doomed, and especially after more and more users started noticing that their ad blocking extensions were not working properly on YouTube, we did indeed see a spike in uninstalls. However, at the same time, the number of installs also increased significantly! It may well be that the way ad blockers’ woes were amplified in the media inadvertently boosted their popularity and helped them woo new users.
  • The takeaway from all of this is that ad blockers — first and foremost, ad-blocking extensions — were rocked by YouTube’s onslaught, but survived. And, moreover, the interest has rebounded, as is evidenced by the growth in the number of active users.
Zagorath,
@Zagorath@aussie.zone avatar

Did they survive? In my case, they got stronger.

In principle, I actually support the idea of people running sites being able to support themselves financially through advertising. I just don’t like when the ads go too far into obnoxious territory. So before all this, I used Adblock Plus with its “acceptable ads policy” to let through unobtrusive banner ads but block prerolls, large graphics, and interstitial ads.

Unfortunately, ABP didn’t adapt to YouTube’s changes quickly enough, so I switched to uBlock Origin. Now I don’t even see unobtrusive ads. Google shot themselves in the foot over this one.

rottingleaf,

When webmasters running homely sites with flavor of their own personality would add places for ad banners, that was fine. You usually knew what kind of content you’d see on which banners where, and they weren’t as bad as now.

With modern ads served by companies stronger than many states, on platforms with less personality than many nation-states have, it just became something you never need which gets forced down your throat via phishing practices and works exactly as phishing.

Nobody who literally follows those ads and believes them does understand what they are doing. It’s aimed at teens who can only poke fingers at screens and at elderly who can also often only poke fingers at screens.

It’s a completely predatory thing by now, with no fair scenarios of usage. It should be outlawed if nothing else works.

Gosh, at this point I’d approve of an official state-standardized replacement of the Web, intentionally limited in extensibility, a bit like Gemini, only without the “minimalist” and “small” parts, which would be mandatory for state institutions, medical institutions, educational institutions, public transport etc. Maybe more similar to HyperCard or having some PostScript support there =\

Zagorath, (edited )
@Zagorath@aussie.zone avatar

When webmasters running homely sites with flavor of their own personality

Honestly this is why I’m so bullish on ActivityPub. Like this video sort of gets at (apologies that that’s a Nebula link. I think you can get one Nebula video for free if you’re not a subscriber, or you can wait until it goes up on the TechAltar YouTube channel after a couple of days or maybe a week—the full interviews with fediverse people are unlikely to go on YT though; I’m currently watching the Automattic CEO interview and finding it brilliant), federation is a really great way of going back to a world of smaller sites hosted by people with a passion for what they’re doing. But it’ll be even better, because of the ability to interact with all these different sites with one unified account. Tumblr and WordPress embracing ActivityPub are an awesome step in that direction.

edit: looks like the main video is . Must have been only a 1 day delay on this one.

key,
@key@lemmy.keychat.org avatar

Missing piece in the numbers here is how many people were uninstalling adguard to switch to uBlock? Using one extension’s install stats to make conclusions about all adblocking extensions seems a bit much.

HarkMahlberg,
HarkMahlberg avatar

May also indicate that users were shopping around for a blocker that worked against Youtube. Maybe some of those users actually just settled with AdGuard coming from ABP, or uBlock, or whoever.

prole,

Right? I’ve never even heard of adguard

rolling_resistance,

AgGuard was (is?) big on Android and DNS. Helped to get rid of ads in many apps.

Krauerking,

Yeah their DNS url was pretty useful in blocking ads on the go when away from my pihole. But I still preferred uBlock on browsers

Draconic_NEO,
@Draconic_NEO@lemmy.world avatar

Pretty sure they did that on purpose, trying to skew the narrative. The goal is to make it seem like it’s all doom and gloom because it’ll get people to read the article to the end, and maybe in their minds get some people to stop using adblockers.

Transporter_Room_3,
@Transporter_Room_3@startrek.website avatar

I can’t remember the last time I saw an ad on any of my devices, so I’d say “lol”

foggy,
TheGrandNagus,

Still using Firefox + ublock origin + sponsorblock. I’ve not seen an ad on YouTube for years.

On my phone I’m using Tubular, a fork of NewPipe with Sponsorblock integration.

nicetriangle,
nicetriangle avatar

Yeah ditto, been working fine for me

HarkMahlberg,
HarkMahlberg avatar

Seen plenty of people talking about the crazy ads they see on Youtube. Right wing propaganda, blatant grifting, scams... Folding Ideas has done not one but two videos talking about the ads he saw and picking them apart. Surely the people complaining about these ads know adblockers exist right? Why don't they use them? I'm sure there are several reasons but, it's been a known quantity for decades that you have the power to control how many and what kind of ads you see.

dan1101,

Same, on phone Newpipe works fine for me so far.

TerraNova,

Is Tubular an Android only thing? I can’t find it. I’m still looking for an iOS solution.

Dehydrated,

You can use Yattee with this guide

TerraNova,

Will try this tonight. Thanks!

Dehydrated,

If this doesn’t work for you, I have another (not as great) option that I used to use, back when I was using iOS. You can find a Invidious or Piped instance you like and a shortcut to it on your home screen. Obviously, that’s not as great as having a nice native app, but it works.

frazorth,

I haven’t observed any problems with uBlock Origin on Firefox.

viking,
@viking@infosec.pub avatar

Same. Not one interruption during the crackdown.

barsoap,

I’ve noticed the occasional jump cut forwards in video where there should’ve been ads, just two or three seconds.

Bebo,

Same. Didn’t even get any youtube pop-ups regarding adblocker detection. Also no slowing down observed (as was reported in some articles a while back).

L_Acacia,
@L_Acacia@lemmy.one avatar

Those slowndown article were clickbait / bad journalism , youtube hasn’t been slowing down the site for adblock user.

rockSlayer,

I got a pop up once, I cleared the ublock cache and never had any issues after.

eek2121,

I saw a popup once, refreshed and it was gone. 🤣

HarkMahlberg,
HarkMahlberg avatar

I moved from Vivaldi to Firefox during the crackdown, signed out all of my Google accounts, and immediately noticed the problems went away. Sorry Vivaldi...

Redjard,
@Redjard@lemmy.dbzer0.com avatar

I’ve just stumbled over Floorp, which to my understanding has many of Vivaldis features Firefox doesn’t, like a sidebar, and is based on Firefox

BenVimes,

I’ve gotten the pop-up once or twice, but updating uBlock fixed that.

I have instead noticed a large decrease in quality, things like frozen images/pages and endless buffering. I don’t know if all that is related, but it did start around the time YouTube started cracking down on ad blockers.

lemmyvore,

For those curious how efficient these things are, recently I did some tests using this tool (clear your cache between tests).

I had decided to install an additional DNS blocker on my OpenWRT router so I was curious how these methods stack up against each other.

I tested uBlock Origin (default lists, reports 116k network filters), the Firefox (122) built-in ETP (Enhanced Tracking Protection) and the router adblock (only a modest 65k IPs in the default set, you can add more lists).

  • Everything off gives me a score of only 3% blocked. Those 3% must be stuff so outrageous that they probably get blocked by upstream DNS servers.
  • Firefox ETP only, set to strict: 41%
  • Router adblock only: 69%
  • Firefox + router both on: 83%
  • uBlock Origin (alone or in combination): 97%
Rexios,

I got a 100% on iOS using Wipr. Not sure that’s accurate if ublock origin didn’t even get a 100%…

Aethr,

Must be a different statistic, I believe OPs stats are “percent of total traffic blocked” so 100% means your entire network would be blocked…

Quetzalcutlass,

What list are you using on your router? I’m using Steven Black’s list (which is just an amalgamation of a bunch of other lists) for my PiHole/uBlock filter list, and Firefox+uBlock Origin scored 99% (only failing the cosmetic static ad test).

StopSpazzing,
@StopSpazzing@lemmy.world avatar

While easy to do, issue with doing this is you don’t give active views to the lists that get combine so the owners of those lists are less inclined to update/maintain them. I would recommend if the list is useful to get each of the combine lists he uses and add them all separately.

lemmyvore,

It’s the Adblock package for OpenWRT. The default selection is adaway, adguard, disconnect, yoyo, which is 3 x 10k lists and one 30k list.

I see that it has support for compiling Steve Black lists but SB can vary 50 - 500k and I only have a router with 128 MB RAM. I’ll have to experiment with the “standard” SB list, see if it fits and if it makes any difference.

disconnectikacio,

Never saw ads against adblock. I use firefox with ublock, and alterbative sponsorblock clients for youtube on android :)

Dr_Chocolate,

This is what I use also, but youtube stopped it and blocked the videos. The work around was opening in an incognito window.

zaphod,

Never had any problems. Did you used to log into an account, maybe that makes a difference?

KuroeNekoDemon,

Same I also add Decentraleyes and Privacy Badger to my repertoire. Never had a problem but maybe I should think about the sponsorblock extension as well

cordlesslamp,

Adblocker will die when there’s no more ads to see.

mojofrododojo,

when there’s no more ads to see.

the surviving AI will be upset at the loss of revenue that occurs, but since they’ll exterminate the human race, it’s not an entirely unexpected side effect.

Darkassassin07,
@Darkassassin07@lemmy.ca avatar

I never even noticed their ‘battle’ using YouTube revanced. (only youtube client I use)

ScaNtuRd,

Well I’m not seeing any ads, so I’d say yes

captain_aggravated,
@captain_aggravated@sh.itjust.works avatar

I’ve been using uBlock Origin in Firefox on both Linux and Android this whole time. If Lemmy hadn’t lit up about it, I wouldn’t have noticed. I never saw one ad or that “dur hur no ad block” message.

And I let Youtube ads run for YEARS. Ads basically everywhere on the net have become intolerable in their content and quantity, so I said enough. And it is 100% Adsense’s fault.

RGB3x3,

Ads basically everywhere on the net have become intolerable in their content and quantity,

I was reading a huffpost article the other day on my work computer on Firefox that doesn’t have an ad blocker. The page was refreshing with new ads every 5 seconds and took up like 20% more CPU power than before I opened the page.

So huffpost is now in my mental blocklist.

mojofrododojo,

yeah we need a coalition of sites that agree a single page serve is fine, they don’t need tons of garbage running in the background.

pachrist,

The fact that ads are so intolerable is the problem. I understand that much of the internet being free is because of ads. But we went from the early days of the internet where ads were malicious, active annoyances to the modern internet where ads are malicious, passive annoyances. Clicking on an ad no longer ruins my afternoon with a virus, but it does log and sell my data to the highest bidder. Nearly every ad on the internet is in bad faith.

Until we have better ads, I will block absolutely everything I can.

sir_reginald,
@sir_reginald@lemmy.world avatar

There’s no such a thing as good ads. Not even before the internet.

Worx,

I’m actually going to disagree there. Where I live there is a monthly magazine delivered free to anyone who wants it. The magazine is 100% adverts and is paid for entirely by the people advertising. It’s very useful when you’re trying to find a plumber of sell a car or whatever.

EDIT: But you were probably being hyperbolic and I will agree that I dislike to see adverts anywhere that I’m not actively searchibg them out

captain_aggravated,
@captain_aggravated@sh.itjust.works avatar

In other words, the yellow pages.

guacupado,

Yeah I’ve always been on firefox and I haven’t noticed a single thing change during the last year of all this hubbub about Youtube.

le_saucisson_masquay,

This made me discover freetube, which is ads free and an excellent way to cut on YouTube « time sink » that Google is so good at, with its recommended tab, auto play feature, clickbait title.

cyberpunk007,

I read the announcements but I haven’t seen an ad yet on any of my shit.

samus12345,
@samus12345@lemmy.world avatar

uBlock seems to have won the arms race, since whenever I had problems it worked again after updating it.

52fighters,

With unlock I didn’t even know there was an arms race. Seamless performance the whole time!

RaoulDook,

I’ve never given Youtube a cent and I always use adblock, on the endpoints and my network, and I have had no problems watching anything I wanted on youtube. I guess you just have to mercilessly block ads at all levels to achieve dominance

Honytawk,

Yeah, never noticed a thing of this “war” because of FF and uBlock origin.

It all just kept working, including on Youtube.

Dehydrated,

Keep using adblockers and don’t surrender your digital freedom to big tech corporations. Also check out private frontends for YouTube (and other plattforms: www.privacyguides.org/en/frontends/

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