YouTube embeds ads into videos to beat ad blockers

YouTube is testing serving ads directly embedded into video streams – the latest move in its war on ad-blockers.

Why it matters. The “server-side ad injection” approach bakes ads into the core video file itself, making them indistinguishable from content for client software and extensions that try to filter out advertising.

Why we care. By embedding ads directly into video streams, this approach will have an advertiser’s ads mirror the look of the content, effectively bypassing ad-blockers and enhancing the visibility and effectiveness of ad campaigns.

The details. SponsorBlock, a crowdsourced extension to skip sponsored segments, said on X YouTube is “experimenting with server-side ad injection.”

  • This offsets all timestamps submitted to SponsorBlock, as ads become embedded into the actual video stream.
  • To prevent bad data, SponsorBlock is temporarily rejecting submissions from users encountering the embedded ads.

The big picture. YouTube’s latest technical maneuver is part of its broader crackdown on ad-blocking over the past year.

  • It first targeted browser ad-blockers, then third-party YouTube apps popular on mobile.
  • The goal is to protect YouTube’s key revenue stream from advertising.

What they’re saying. “Users are encouraged to subscribe to YouTube Premium,” Google suggests, offering an ad-free paid tier.

Between the lines. Google is unlikely to detail how the server-side ad embedding works, but it requires changes to YouTube’s core video delivery infrastructure.

What’s next. The embedded ad test is still limited but likely to expand as YouTube aims to make ad-blocking tools ineffective.

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