Is Google's big push for its YouTube Premium subscription and crackdown on ad blockers why I'm seeing more ads than ever before?

YouTube Premium trial pop-up message on a TV
(Image credit: Kevin Okemwa)

YouTube is arguably one of the best streaming platforms (or so I thought). This can be predominantly attributed to the fact users can find whatever type of content they fancy on the platform for free

I've been using YouTube since its launch, and all I can say is that the watching experience has increasingly gotten worse over the years. While there's an influx of content creators which directly translates to more content being uploaded on YouTube, there's also been an increased number of ads featured on the streaming platform, too.

Ad blocker is to blame for the slow load times on YouTube

YouTube logo on ZTE Axon

(Image credit: Android Central)

Google's crackdown on ad blockers has limited access to YouTube for users with ad blockers enabled on their PCs. Recently, several users took to social media platforms to highlight their frustrations over Google's firm stance on ad blockers, citing performance issues. Several users indicated they were experiencing slow load times and increased CPU usage this past weekend. The issue seems widespread across most browsers, including Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge.

As it turns out, neither Google nor YouTube are to blame for the subpar viewing experience witnessed over the weekend. The issue stemmed from a bug affecting both Adblock and Adblock Plus, which were recently updated to version 5.17.0, according to a spot by Neowin.

The developers furnished affected users with the following statement, further explaining the main cause of the issue:

"Recently, ABP released version 3.22 which upgraded the bundled extension engine version to 1.1.1. AdBlock released version 5.17.0 which also updated the extension engine to version 1.1.1. We've had several reports of slow response time since the update.

It appears to be an issue in the extension engine since ABP, AdBlock, and the EWE test extension all seem to experience a similar issue with the 1.1.1 version of the extension engine."

However, the issue has since been patched with the latest version of eyeo's Web Extension Ad Blocking Toolkit (EWE) version 1.1.2. Affected users are urged to update to the latest version of the ad blocker extension to continue enjoying an uninterrupted video streaming experience. 

YouTube Premium inevitably seems like the best option 

YouTube running on Mozilla Firefox

(Image credit: Kevin Okemwa)

I know am not the only one who's been getting that YouTube Premium free trial pop-up almost every time I launch the YouTube app. I've always known about this ad-free option, but never thought much about it (besides the fact it just became available in my country). 

I decided to join the free trial for YouTube Premium, and it might be the best decision I've made this year so far. I've thoroughly enjoyed hundreds of videos without having to worry about ad pop-ups every 5 minutes. 

Not to mention the capability to download videos and music to watch while I'm offline. Playing music videos in the background while using other apps on my phone or when the screen is off is a lifesaver, as it allows me to multitask while listening to my favorite jams. 

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Ads remain a necessary evil and will continue to reign. Google's fight against ad blockers could potentially get worse, ultimately forcing users to disable their extensions for s more streamlined watching experience. But I guess will have to wait and see how everything pans out. I'll stick to YouTube Premium as I can stand those annoying ads, and can't afford to give up playing music in the background while using my phone.

When did the storm start hitting YouTube?

Windows Central Channel on YouTube

(Image credit: Kevin Okemwa)

Toward the end of last year, Google doubled down on its efforts to detect and block ad-blockers on YouTube. The company highlighted that ad blockers go against the streaming platform's terms of service. What's more, they also prevent creators from making money through ads. 

According to several threads shared on Reddit and X (formerly Twitter), disabling your ad blocker extension or updating it seemingly does the trick. Some users experiencing the lag issues have shared screenshots with a pop-up message asking them to switch from Microsoft Edge to Google Chrome when the issue persists or join the YouTube Premium plan. 

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Google is looking to drive more users to its Chromium browser, Google Chrome. This is backed by a previous report where Firefox users had lodged complaints over slow load times when streaming videos on YouTube, too. The users looked into the matter by comparing the load times when using Google Chrome versus Firefox. Their findings disclosed that Google Chrome spotted faster load times.

Interestingly, users have also gotten notoriously clever, finding new ways to bypass Google's crackdown on ad blockers. A classic example is when users discovered that switching the user agent on a browser to Windows Phone would let them bypass the pop-up notification asking them to disable their ad blocker when trying to stream videos on YouTube.

Google isn't doing a great job on ads despite its firm stance on ad blockers

YouTube as a Progressive Web App on Windows 11

(Image credit: Future)

Google is insistent on getting users to disable ad blockers when streaming videos on YouTube, in a bid to generate revenue from ads and compensation for content creators. 

However, the company has found itself in a tough spot in the recent past with multiple users flagging explicit content featured in ads that appeared while watching videos on YouTube. Google issued a statement indicating that it had pulled down the ad and taken the necessary action against the associated account, as it breached the company's terms and policies. 

What are your thoughts on Google's crackdown on ad blockers? Let us know in the comments. 

Kevin Okemwa

Kevin Okemwa is a seasoned tech journalist based in Nairobi, Kenya with lots of experience covering the latest trends and developments in the industry at Windows Central. With a passion for innovation and a keen eye for detail, he has written for leading publications such as OnMSFT, MakeUseOf, and Windows Report, providing insightful analysis and breaking news on everything revolving around the Microsoft ecosystem. You'll also catch him occasionally contributing at iMore about Apple and AI. While AFK and not busy following the ever-emerging trends in tech, you can find him exploring the world or listening to music.