Ad Blocker Not Working on YouTube? Try This. (and why this might happen more and more)

Updated on 2024-06-21

In a move that has sparked both outrage and intrigue among its user base, YouTube is testing a new tactic to combat ad blockers: server-side ad injection.

This controversial technique essentially embeds ads directly into video streams, making them technically indistinguishable from the content itself.

Why the Change?

YouTube’s motivation is clear: advertising revenue is the lifeblood of the platform, and ad blockers have been eating into those profits.

By making ads harder to block, YouTube hopes to reclaim lost revenue and incentivize users to subscribe to YouTube Premium, its ad-free subscription service.

However, this change has not been without consequences.

SponsorBlock, a popular browser extension that allows users to skip sponsored segments within videos, is among the first casualties. With server-side ad injection, SponsorBlock’s timestamps are rendered useless, as the ads are now seamlessly woven into the video.

How to Fix Ad Blocker on YouTube?

Getting your ad blocker to work on YouTube again is tricky, but here are a few things you can try:

  • Clear your cache: This might work, but probably not. It’s worth a shot, though.
  • Clear your local storage: This is like clearing your cache, but a bit more thorough. You can do it in your browser’s settings or by using developer tools (usually accessed by pressing F12).
  • Remove and reinstall your ad block extension: Sometimes a fresh start can help.
  • Try a different ad block extension: As of June 21, 2024, uBlock Origin seems to still work, but who knows for how long?
  • Deal with it: If server-side ad injection becomes the norm, blocking ads might be a thing of the past.

Unfortunately, there’s no guarantee that any of these will work, and YouTube is constantly changing things to make it harder for ad blockers.

Why Ad Blockers Aren’t Working on YouTube Anymore

Google’s major update, Manifest V3, changed the extension system to improve security, performance, and privacy. However, it also limits how extensions can modify websites and requests. This includes ad blocker extensions that need to filter out ads and trackers on YouTube. YouTube has become one of the toughest platforms for ad blockers to handle because it uses various techniques to bypass them, such as:

  • Server-side ad injection AKA embedding ads within the video content itself.
  • Serving ads from the or domain (as opposed to an add-specific domain, like Google AdSense).
  • Randomizing the URLs and parameters of ads and trackers.
  • Using encryption and obfuscation to hide ads and trackers.

Additionally, YouTube has been experimenting a lot since mid-2023.

These techniques make it harder for ad block extensions to identify and stop ads and trackers on YouTube. With Google’s Manifest V3 update further limiting ad blockers’ capabilities, it’s no surprise that many users are seeing more ads on YouTube than before.

The Broader Implications

This development raises important questions about the future of online advertising and user experience.

  • Is this a desperate move by YouTube to protect its revenue streams?
  • How will users respond to this more aggressive approach to advertising?
  • And what does this mean for the future of ad blockers and similar tools?

The answers to these questions remain unclear, but one thing is certain: YouTube’s war on ad blockers is far from over.

As the platform continues to experiment with new ways to deliver ads, users will be forced to adapt or face a future where advertising is an unavoidable part of their online experience.