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YouTube Shows Adblock Plus Users an Error Message Instead of Ads 205

An anonymous reader writes: Do you use YouTube with Adblock Plus? Some users have been getting the following message instead of ads: "An error occurred. Please try again later." The error message is only shown for the duration of the ad, meaning Adblock Plus is still technically getting the job done. But adblocking extensions typically block ads as well as remove them: For banner ads that means gaining back screen real estate on the webpage while for videos that means the content starts playing right away.
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YouTube Shows Adblock Plus Users an Error Message Instead of Ads

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  • Time shifting (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Aighearach ( 97333 ) on Sunday March 13, 2016 @03:18PM (#51690297) Homepage

    If you extrapolate the arms race out, I can see victory being that you time-shift the video while the ad-blocker lets the ad play to /dev/null.

    They can't force me to watch the ads, because they can't force me to watch their content. I would give up their content before watching ads, the same way as I don't watch teevee with ads. But as long as they want it to be freely available, they can only temporarily frustrate the ad blockers.

    • Re:Time shifting (Score:4, Informative)

      by slashping ( 2674483 ) on Sunday March 13, 2016 @03:47PM (#51690403)
      Turn down the volume, switch to another tab for a minute, return to first tab and rewind to start of real video. Or just stop watching.
      • Sites that are that anal about you *seeing* the ads will often want to show you an ad AGAIN if you rewind.

        I also loved the last presidential election - Up here in Alaska one of our senate seats was up for election. The major parties spent something like $120 per registered voter on advertising. Democrat incumbent vs Republican challenger. If you had an IP from AK, everything was about the election of that seat.

        Hell, I now have a greasemonkey script to remove the most annoying sites from search results.

        • Re:Time shifting (Score:4, Informative)

          by slashping ( 2674483 ) on Sunday March 13, 2016 @04:14PM (#51690505)

          Sites that are that anal about you *seeing* the ads will often want to show you an ad AGAIN if you rewind.

          In that case, the last part of my comment applies: just stop watching. There's plenty of other stuff to do.

      • by hjf ( 703092 )

        And then sit back and watch a video... until BAM, a banner pops up, which you have to close manually. Youtube is becoming TV very quick. It's just a matter of time until they start overlaying countdowns: "NEW SEASON IN 49 days 23:33:42..."

        • Then they will go the way of the TV and the next video provider in line gets my eyes.

        • A lot of the non-fiction content that I use youtube for would simply move to other sites.

          Youtube is great for the do-it-yourselfer, but these are also people who ad-block. If they force me out, a lot of the content providers I use will also be moving.

    • Just wait until ads are spliced into video stream itself. No way to block that other than some pattern recognition scheme.

      • Doesn't Hulu already do that? (Splicing ads into the video stream)
      • Just wait until ads are spliced into video stream itself. No way to block that other than some pattern recognition scheme.

        Yeah, I believe there are readily available algorithms. The tagging would be easy to crowdsource, a button in the browser that the user could click when they see an ad.

        If the ad industry teams up with the major OS and hardware companies and come up with some crap that prevents user space software from accessing streaming video data directly, you could still use the microphone on your computer and run an algorithm on the audio.

        • If the ad industry teams up with the major OS and hardware companies and come up with some crap that prevents user space software from accessing streaming video data directly

          This is what I'd like to see personally: the ad companies need to team up with Microsoft to make it technically nearly impossible to block ads (of all types) on Windows machines. MS is basically reinventing itself as an advertising/marketing company anyway, so this would be a great fit for them.

          It'll be fun listening to Windows users w

      • They don't want to splice the ads into the video stream, because that makes their advertising less targeted and their tracking harder.

        • No reason (other than horsepower) why they can't splice on the fly with an ad just as targeted as whatever they show at the start.

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      No need to time-shift, that's now how YouTube ads work. The ads are stored on different servers to the main content, so it's easy to filter them by simply denying access to those hosts. You can do it at the router level to clean up your smart TV and wifi device's YouTube apps.

      The issue here is that the YouTube playback code now shows an error when it can't access those servers. Previously it would just give up and play the content after a few seconds (they kept the timeout short to improve the user experien

    • by Megane ( 129182 )

      Interstitials in the main stream is probably the endgame of this. Then you wouldn't be able to tell them apart. The problem is that it's hard to do that in a sane way over a live stream of content that has no natural breaks.

      For what it's worth, Ustream's interstitial ads via their Flash player (they still won't offer me an HTML5 player with the current version of Seamonkey, which uses the same rendering engine as Firefox and is usually the current FF version of Gecko) are done via a separate .swf served fr

  • by penguinoid ( 724646 ) on Sunday March 13, 2016 @03:24PM (#51690311) Homepage Journal

    I didn't see any ads. I have adblocker with easylist and an anti-adblocker blocker list.

    • I don't see any ads either, just using Chrome with ABP in default mode.
      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        I had a few error messages on YouTube with Chrome and uBlock. Hit F5 and the video plays. I have Easylist and the anti-ad-block list enabled, as well as a load of other stuff. Might only be affecting certain regions or a certain percentage of users.

    • I didn't see any ads either, I pay for youtube red as part of my indispensable google music account.

    • by Megane ( 129182 )

      I strictly use a custom blocking list with "allow ads that are nice enough bribe us" disabled. And I will just as happily block a single .js file as I will entire domains that clearly have no other purpose in life than to serve ads or track people. (And also stuff like that stupid Sharethis or whatever has roll-over pop-ups for dozens of social media sites, since it's something I would never use and it's annoying too.) Whenever I start with a new computer, one of the first places I go is Drudge Report, beca

    • by houghi ( 78078 )

      The summery talked about 'some' people that it is happening to. I can imagine google trying it out on a few servers to see what happens and what the results are. This before they launch it worldwide.

      Things they might be interested in, but not limited to:
      Are people turning off adblock
      Are people still watching the content
      Are people coming back
      Are people looking elsewhere
      Are people deblocking YouTube, while they keep blocking e.g. DoubleClick.com

      Remember that they have all this data to figure out how they can

    • I use NoScript and ABP with EasyList + Adblock Warning Removal List and "Acceptable Ads" disabled. If you block scripts from googleadservices.com but turn off ABP on youtube.com, you'll just get the home page banner ad and the square sidebar ad but no video ads or overlay banners. In the worst case, I have a fancy Greasemonkey script that gives me direct access to the video streams so if they get cocky I can just skip the ads by clicking directly through to the underlying MP4.
  • by Snotnose ( 212196 ) on Sunday March 13, 2016 @03:24PM (#51690315)
    Hmm, ads possibly serving malware, or cat vidz. decisions decisions.
    • by garcia ( 6573 ) on Sunday March 13, 2016 @03:41PM (#51690381)

      uBlock Origin is still working just fine. I suggest you move away from ABP immediately and shift over to something which hasn't, yet, been corrupted by the industry.

      • by hjf ( 703092 ) on Sunday March 13, 2016 @03:58PM (#51690453) Homepage

        Ublock Origin on Firefox. I get the error message.

      • uBlock Origin is still working just fine. I suggest you move away from ABP immediately and shift over to something which hasn't, yet, been corrupted by the industry.

        More than that, uBlock bases itself around higher performance than ABP. That was the reason I switched.

      • by Cederic ( 9623 )

        I use uBlock Origin and have been getting that error message for a few months.

        I just hit F5 and the video almost always starts to play for me.

    • Funny story... I wandered over to youtube to check if I get the error (didn't get it; ublock origin) and I ended up watching some cat furry videos.

      Malware, of course... actually, I'd be impressed if they got some past all my levels of protection.

      Malware in ads isn't youtube video ads, it is other stuff. These are simply obnoxious video content that I refuse to consume, not random code that runs on your computer.

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        I ended up watching some cat furry videos.

        You... You what? ;-)

        Anyway, YouTube video ads are a bit different to ads on other sites. They play before the video. The channel owner (or channel hijacker if they have been copyright-jacked) can decide how long they last and if they are skippable. They are served from Google/YouTube's own servers and are just normal videos like any other on the site, so apart from blowing up your speakers with a nice square wave or giving the user an epileptic fit there isn't much scope for malicious behaviour.

        Getting rid

  • by 110010001000 ( 697113 ) on Sunday March 13, 2016 @03:41PM (#51690377) Homepage Journal
    It is only a matter of time before Google tried to stop adblocking on Youtube. They were just waiting for Youtube to get all the marketshare. Next they will try to crack down on copyright violations. They didn't try too hard while they were trying to get all the marketshare.
    • Same as everything else, market share can go down just as easily as up. They don't have a monopoly on web servers, so any monopoly they have is a "natural" one that would go away as soon as people like it less.

      Geocities had lots of market share, AOL had market share, napster had market share, myspace had market share. I'm still using ICQ, it used to be the #1 instant messenger.

      You can't be an internet monopoly unless you tolerate ad-blockers, because if you fight them and succeed, it means those users are m

      • True. I'm not saying it is a good strategy. But they do have a massive mind and market share. Every kid knows "Youtube" at this point.
        • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

          True. I'm not saying it is a good strategy. But they do have a massive mind and market share. Every kid knows "Youtube" at this point.

          Yeah, but there's little network effect - if another provider popped up and people start using them, converting from YouTube takes little effort - all the embeds and links go to the new site quite trivially.

          This is unlike Facebook or eBay where there are significant network effects that cause people to stay - Facebook in having many users which means their friends and family

  • that's interesting. i've often gotten that error message, but I assumed it was a browser fail and used a different browser. Can I wait it out and then the add starts? that's a dirty business on goog's part. do no evil!

  • Google is well within their rights to do this. They offer a $10/mo service to go ad-free. There isn't any excuse to block ads on Youtube.

    • That's $40 for a family of 4, just to see some funny cat movies. Sounds like there's plenty of excuse.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        No, your disagreement with the price is not an excuse.

    • Yep. I agree that using ad-blocking software is not just reasonable, but essential, in the vast majority of cases, seeing as how they tent to bog things down, serve up various malwares, and generally act as digital pestilence, but in the case of the ads on Youtube, nope, not seeing that. I don't get the anger of having to watch a 15 second ad to support all the content you are getting for free, content which is supported by those ads. What exactly is just so wrong with that?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    It's pretty amazing. I don't own a TV, don't listen to radio, ane don't see any ads online. I have no fucking clue what movies are in theatres, what shows are on TV, or the names of up and coming celebrities. It is pure fucking BLISS.

    Life is even more fantastic once you eradicate all that bullshit.

  • Not just adblock (Score:5, Interesting)

    by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) on Sunday March 13, 2016 @05:02PM (#51690645) Journal

    It doesn't matter which adblocker you use or which browser you use. I've been following this story closely, and this is what I've learned:

    Whether or not you get this error (which lasts as long as an advertisement, by the way) depends on how many ads your YouTube account has blocked recently. For example, if you log out of your YouTube account you won't get the error. If you switch to a Google (or YouTube) account that you haven't used in a while, you won't get the error. And if a couple of days later you log back in with the original account, you won't get the error. But if you watch a bunch of videos with ads that get blocked, the error will start again.

    And yes, it doesn't matter which adblocking software you use. uBlock users are reporting the error as well. YouTube support has basically said, "This is happening because of something we did, but it wasn't intentional. And since it wasn't intentional, we're not going to do anything about it, so you'll have to contact your adblocker's support."

    • Whether or not you get this error (which lasts as long as an advertisement, by the way) depends on how many ads your YouTube account has blocked recently. For example, if you log out of your YouTube account you won't get the error.

      I NEVER log in to YouTube - don't even have an account, except perhaps insofar as I have a Gmail account, (which I never use), because of Android. And I DO see the error message. It DOESN'T last the length of an ad - it lasts for a second or two. I'm running both Flashblock and Adblock Edge - Adblock for obvious reasons, and Flashblock because I often have multiple YouTube tabs open and only want one to play at a time. And I have a Greasemonkey script that automatically turns off Autoplay.

      • I NEVER log in to YouTube - don't even have an account, except perhaps insofar as I have a Gmail account, (which I never use), because of Android. And I DO see the error message. It DOESN'T last the length of an ad - it lasts for a second or two. I'm running both Flashblock and Adblock Edge - Adblock for obvious reasons, and Flashblock because I often have multiple YouTube tabs open and only want one to play at a time. And I have a Greasemonkey script that automatically turns off Autoplay.

        I've seen the beha

    • by Megane ( 129182 )

      It doesn't matter which adblocker you use or which browser you use. I've been following this story closely, and this is what I've learned:

      Whether or not you get this error (which lasts as long as an advertisement, by the way) depends on how many ads your YouTube account has blocked recently. For example, if you log out of your YouTube account you won't get the error. If you switch to a Google (or YouTube) account that you haven't used in a while, you won't get the error. And if a couple of days later you log back in with the original account, you won't get the error. But if you watch a bunch of videos with ads that get blocked, the error will start again.

      And yes, it doesn't matter which adblocking software you use. uBlock users are reporting the error as well. YouTube support has basically said, "This is happening because of something we did, but it wasn't intentional. And since it wasn't intentional, we're not going to do anything about it, so you'll have to contact your adblocker's support."

      For example, if you log out of your YouTube account you won't get the error.

      Well that might explain why I haven't been seeing this. I stopped logging into my account years ago when Google bought them out and started trying to link everything to G+, and then the real names policy sealed the deal.

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      I got the message yesterday. Not logged in, not viewed any videos for at least a week. It doesn't seem to have anything to do with some hidden limit or being logged in, it's just random.

    • by houghi ( 78078 )

      The interesting part is the following:

      how many ads your YouTube account has blocked recentl

      Does that mean that if you are not logged in, you will not affected? Because I have not noticed anything. I watch about 50-100 videos per day, but I (almost) never log in.
      I just use RSS to be updated about the channels I follow. No need to log in. That said, I watch most videos in a frame. I just link to my website (Source http://houghi.org/yt.php?code [houghi.org]) and see no ads with adblock there when watching e.g. http://hough [houghi.org]

  • Yeah someone figured that out a while ago, well its nice to see the cause being identified (Guess they don't care THAT much about net neutrality afterall...)

    But at least they figured out a solution already and this works for me.

    Start a youtube video from link.
    when it does not load, click on the right right sidebar videos.
    that one loads fine (is it a bug? hope not)
    Now press ALT + LEFT ARROW and poof your original video in all its glory. Works most times for me.

    I actually thought it was flashblock screwing up

    • I actually thought it was flashblock screwing up but my wife has noticed it for months and complained that youtube is "unusable".

      I for one would also first blame YouTube not working well as they start presenting errors. I'm not going to wait for an error to go away by itself - error means error to me, not "wait a while". It's anyway odd that they'd start showing errors instead of a "please switch off AdBlock" message.

  • How about something that is totally client-side and does nothing but obscure ads? Load 'em up, use my bandwidth, whatever. Just hide them so they don't annoy me. Would make the blocker technology impossible to detect.
  • Is there any way I can pay youtube a small amount of money, so I wouldn't have to deal with ads at all, that isn't "Youtube Red"?
    "YouTube Red is not currently available in Sweden."

    Youtube redoing the ads is the reason I installed ABP again; before that a simple DNS block did the trick.

  • I don't really mind the ads too much; the ads I hate are the javascript and flash monstrosities that slow browsers down to a crawl. But I'm willing to wait 4-15 seconds for the content to come on; it's what allows content producers to get paid for their (sometimes) hard work (something I eventually want to do for myself one day).

Time to take stock. Go home with some office supplies.

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