Q&A YouTube ads in Safari: you see them now, will you see them in the future?

Gandalf_The_Grey

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Lately, we've been receiving an increasing amount of complaints about missed YouTube ads on iOS. What's important, the complaints were specifically about watching YouTube inside the Safari browser. As it turned out, YT has employed a new algorithm for showing ads to logged users, and it had a negative effect on ad blocking quality. De facto, right now YouTube loads ad clips almost the same way as regular videos.

We found a solution that works for Safari on iOS, but it leaves much to be desired compared to other platforms and browsers. Simply speaking, we're blocking short videos (99.99% of them are ads).

But with such approach user experience takes a real hit: either there's a noticeable delay before the video loads or there's a placeholder in place of the video ad.
Short version:
A few months ago YouTube started using the same way to show video ads to Chrome users, but we were able to handle it without much trouble. What's different about Safari? Unfortunately, Safari Content Blocking is severely limited compared to full scale content blockers for other browsers. There were almost no changes to Safari Content Blocking API since it was introduced in 2015.

Depending on your OS, here's what you can expect:
  • iOS/iPadOS: the current solution is the best solution that can be provided right now under the circumstances. We'll have to live with it unless Apple makes drastic changes (more on that later)
  • On macOS:
    • If you're using the standalone AdGuard for Mac app, you're not affected at all. You probably haven't noticed these ads in the first place.
    • If you're using AdGuard for Safari, make sure that "Advanced Blocking" extension is enabled. This extension makes up for some of the functionality that Safari Content Blocking misses. Unfortunately, it cannot be ported to iOS/iPadOS.
If Safari wants to stay relevant, some things need to be improved. We are ready to help and provide whatever expertise that might be needed. In fact, we have submitted multiple bug reports and feature requests already.
Now, if you want to learn what's exactly wrong with Safari Content Blocking, read further:
 

Gandalf_The_Grey

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And they found a solution/workaround (y)
Important:
  1. This shortcut is open-source. In this repository you can see everything it does.
  2. The shortcut is not updated by itself. This means that if we change something in it, it will need to be reinstalled. But when the new version of AdGuard comes out, there will be no need to think about it.
  3. The shortcut can be used without AdGuard. Even if you don't use any blocker on iOS at all, it will completely clean YouTube from ads.
This is a temporary solution, of course. But right now it seems to be the best possible option. The problem is especially noticeable on iPads, where a white blank field appears instead of ads. But even if you have an iPhone, using the shortcut will make the situation better: in addition to advertising, an extra click will disappear, which interferes with the autoplay of the video. If you are used to living happily without YouTube ads and are annoyed to see them again in Safari, try our shortcut.
 

Gandalf_The_Grey

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