Using an ad blocker to watch YouTube videos will help you avoid the ads that Google shoves down our throats. Google obviously isn’t a fan of the practice, and I previously explained why ads are integral to the YouTube experience.
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But there’s another type of ad that ad blockers won’t remove. The sponsored ads or product placement ads that creators insert in their videos. This is another way for content makers to monetize their channels. And Google just revealed that YouTubers will be able to timestamp product ads in videos to increase sales.
As I said before, there’s nothing wrong with this type of product placement. It’s different from other ads Google delivers, as your favorite creators might promote products you want to use. But it turns out there’s a way to block YouTube sponsored ads as well, and it’s available via a browser extension.
The extension is open-source and works by integrating crowdsourced information. YouTube viewers actually submit “skip segments” to the platform. These are the segments in a video where a creator promotes a product or service. According to SponsorBlock, users have submitted over 15 million skip segments so far.
“There are currently 13,033,165 users who have submitted 15,054,832 skip segments, which have saved a total of 1885 years and 16.23 days of people’s lives,” the Sponsor Block web page read at the time of this writing.
Once you enable the extension in your browser, you’ll see a green color appear for the sponsored content. The video will automatically skip over that product placement segment, though you can also manually jump to the end of it. The developer says the extension uses a “privacy-preserving query system” to auto-skip the segments.
The extension’s settings let you disable automatic skipping. Or you can add intros and outros to the list of clip segments you’d want to avoid on YouTube. Furthermore, using the same extension, you can contribute to the list of skip segments for videos where the extension doesn’t work yet.
Again, the sponsored ads have to be identified by regular YouTube users before the extension can block them. SponsorBlock has a leaderboard to keep track of the most prolific users.
In addition to the browser, SponsorBlock might also work in third-party apps for Android and iPhone, as well as apps for Android TV.
That said, it’s up to you to decide how to watch YouTube and what ads to allow. Remember, though, that creators have to make a living. And ads, whether Google’s or product placement, are a part of that. As for installing extensions in your browsers, always make sure you get them from the official stores.