Ads can be annoying; there’s no avoiding that. From the early days of the Internet, when pop-up windows could take over your screen, to the more recent iteration of in-site advertising which is suspiciously reminiscent of those early pop-up windows, it can be incredibly frustrating.
YouTube is not exempt from this, of course. Sure, they don’t throw annoying overlays and pop-up windows in your face, but there is a special kind of frustration that comes with clicking on a thirty-second meme video, only to be greeted with a twenty-second unskippable advert for a popular team management platform.
You know which one we mean.
It shouldn’t be surprising that more and more people are turning to AdBlock solutions to make their Internet browsing experience a little more palatable. It only takes one visit to a typical news site, with thirteen pop-up ads, a cookie warning, a request to send notifications, multiple unroll adds that slide the content you are trying to read out of sight, and unskippable pre-roll ads on the video content that the news site absolutely does not own the rights to, to make you want to install an ad blocker out of spite if nothing else.
But how does this affect your favourite YouTubers? We have reached a point where most of the people using the Internet are quite savvy, having either been born with the Internet already here, or having had decades to acclimatise to it. Most people understand that the adverts they are being forced to watch are supporting the content they are consuming. Granted, when it is a trashy tabloid newspaper whose abuse of advertising makes their product almost unusable, it’s tempting to not care that you’re taking some money out of their pocket. But when it’s your favourite YouTuber, especially if that YouTuber is an individual, and even more so if that YouTuber is a smaller, growing channel, it can give you pause. If you’ve ever found yourself wondering “do YouTubers get paid if I use AdBlock?”, the answer is no… but also maybe. That’s right; this is yet another question with no clearcut answer. What we can say for certain is that if you are not seeing the ads being served on a video, the YouTuber who is responsible for that video is not getting any money from those ads. However, there is more to earning money on YouTube than being served ads. Keep reading, and we’ll take a deep dive into the likely impact your ad-blocking behaviour might be having on your favourite YouTubers, as well as ways you can assuage your guilt if you absolutely must keep your ad blocking software in action.
How Do Ad Blockers Work?
When talking about regular webpages with ads in the sidebar or the main content, it is not hard to wrap your mind around how an adblocker does its thing, because it can merely edit the webpage code on the fly, snipping out the advertisement. It can also block pop-ups and redirects. But what about videos? YouTube’s builds its pre, mid, and post-roll ads into the video itself, so how can an ad blocker prevent the ad without blocking the whole video?
Ad blockers have a variety of methods at their disposal, with one of the most versatile ones being the ability to block certain domains and URLs. If YouTube attempts to load an ad from a blocked domain, it will encounter the error, assume there is something wrong, and allow you to skip to the content.
There are a few different metrics that factor into how YouTubers earn from ads, but generally speaking, if a viewer doesn’t see at least the first two seconds of an ad, the YouTuber does not receive anything for that attempted ad view.
Google is a big company, and they’re smart enough to get around ad blockers if they really wanted to. The truth of the matter is that people who use ad blockers are so statistically insignificant compared to the people who don’t use them that companies like Google don’t deem it worth the effort to get into what would essentially become an arms race against the people making those ad blockers. In fact, the number of people who even know ad blockers are a thing is an overwhelming minority.
If YouTube were to start combatting ad blockers, it would lead ad blockers to find new ways to get around YouTube’s solutions, which would prompt YouTube to come up with new methods, and so on. As the world of DRM (digital rights management) has taught us time and time again, this kind of situation rarely ends well for the consumer. The most likely outcome would be regular YouTube users who are just trying to watch content being inconvenienced by broken and unintuitive systems designed to stop ad blockers; meanwhile, the people using ad blocker would likely be unaffected as there will always be another workaround. There is also an argument to be made that Google getting into an ad block war would only draw more attention to the existence of ad blockers, thus increasing the usage of them and making it less of a statistically insignificant prospect.
One take away from this from the perspective of YouTube users who is worried about their ad blocking hurting their favourite YouTubers is that YouTube does not suffer from you blocking ads due to the small number of people who do it. But, the individual YouTuber who’s videos you are viewing may suffer, if they have a relatively small audience with a relatively high proportion of ad blocker users.
How Much Do Ad Blockers Impact YouTubers
Okay, here’s the truth; ad blockers don’t really harm YouTubers that much at all. Wait! We’re not suggesting you shouldn’t feel a bit guilty about this; you are undeniably preventing YouTubers from earning money when you block ads on their videos. There’s no blurred edges or uncertainty about that, and you’re going to have to make peace with that if you want to continue blocking those ads (but we have a few ways to make things up to your favourite YouTubers below).
But the truth is, people who use ad blockers are so few, and individual ads are worth so little, that it just doesn’t make that much difference. For YouTubers barely making any money from their ads, missing a few cents they might have earned from you isn’t going to change their life. And for more successful YouTubers who make a small fortune from their ads, your few cents of ad plays won’t be noticed or missed.
Couple this with the fact that decreasing ad revenue from YouTube’s ads over recent years has led to a general shift towards other means of monetising content, and you have a growing argument for ads not being that important. Sure, YouTubers still use the YouTube Partner Programme to monetise their videos with ads, but it is rarely their only method. Things like Patreon, merchandise sales, and using YouTube to push viewers towards a product are increasingly more significant earners, and your ad blocker has no effect on those things.
What Can I do to Support YouTubers I Like?
No matter how we spin it, there is no getting away from the fact that using an ad blocker on a YouTube page is denying the YouTuber revenue. It may be a small amount of revenue, but it is revenue nonetheless. It is naturalâ€”even expectedâ€”to feel a little guilty about this, especially for YouTubers you like and watch on a regular basis. So, what can you do to make things right?
Turn Your Ad Blocker Off!
No doubt this will be the least popular suggestion we make, but it is the most effective. The truth is any time you block an ad; you are denying someone’s revenue. Even those news sites that go ridiculously over the top with their barrage of adverts are making content you must want to consume, so it’s only fair they get compensated for it. With YouTubers, turning off your ad blocker will ensure they earn the most revenue they can.
Selectively Turn off Your Ad Blocker
The next best thing is turning off your ad blocker for YouTube. Many ad blocker applications and plugins will allow you to “whitelist” some websites so that ads on those pages are still displayed. You may not want to let everyone in, but if you give YouTube the nod, you will be able to keep your ad blocker running while still supporting your favourite YouTubers. Unfortunately, the scope of this functionality is usually limited to domains, meaning you would have to allow ads for all of YouTube, not just the YouTubers you approve of.
Find Other Ways to Support Your YouTubers
As mentioned above, YouTubers these days rarely rely on YouTube Partner Programme money alone. If you are unwilling to budge on the ad blocker front, you could always seek out one of these alternative methods and support them that way. This could include becoming a Patreon and supporting them with a monthly contribution, buying their merchandise or a product they are promoting, or even just sending them a direct donation through something like PayPal.
Can I get in Trouble for Using Ad Blocker?
Though the legal landscape of the Internet is an everchanging animal, there are no realistic situations in which you would get into any sort of legal trouble for using an ad blocker. Of course, we are obligated to point out that this is not a legal blog, and nothing we say here constitutes legal advice.
Right now the consequences of using an ad blocker (when there are any consequences) are usually just a message saying that a site has noticed you are using an ad blocker and politely asking you to turn it off. In reality, those sites usually have no way of knowing you are using an ad blocker, and instead use other tricks to get that message in front of your eyeballs. The important part here is that if they don’t know you are using an ad blocker, they can’t “punish” you for it.
If you were discovered to be using an ad blocker on a random site, they would have to sue you to extract any compensation from you using the legal system. And, given the cost of a lawsuit vs the material losses you might have cost them, suing you is incredibly unlikely. Internet advertisements are typically worth pennies per view. For sites you visit more frequently, and services you might be signed up to, there is always a possibility of being banned from that site or service, though this also is very unlikely. It is not a particularly difficult task to have a website block access to the content for people using ad blockers (it is also not that difficult for someone who knows what they are doing to get around that block) so you may find some content out of reach.
For YouTube, as we mentioned, right now, they don’t seem to care, and that is unlikely to change any time soon.
There is no getting around the fact that, when you block advertisements from showing, someone is losing out on potential earnings. How you feel about that is your business, but we often build a more personal relationship with our YouTubers than we do with a site like Buzzfeed, or Cracked, and that can lead us to want to do right by them.
Turning off your ad blocker is the best thing you can do, but we understand why some people are reluctant to do that. If you can whitelist certain websites, consider allowing ads on YouTube if nowhere else. And, finally, if all else fails, you can look for a way to support your favourite YouTubers more directly, such as through their Patreon, or even directly through PayPal or a similar service.
Ultimately, the impact of ad blocker users on the Internet as a whole is not that significant, given how little individual ad views are worth, and how few people use ad blockers. Still, it doesn’t hurt to be mindful about things like this. Support your favourite creators, or they might not be creating the next time you check-in.