If you’ve spent any time watching YouTube videos on a desktop, you’ll no doubt be familiar with overlay advertisements. Unless you're a YouTube Premium subscriber, these annoying popups are highly obtrusive and appear far too frequently for our liking.
And it would seem YouTube itself is in agreement, as it’s been confirmed that overlay ads will soon be a thing of the past.
The news comes from an official YouTube forum post (and corroborated by Ars Technica), stating overlay ads will be removed starting April 6, 2023. The forum post refers to them as a "legacy ad format” and labels them “disruptive for viewers.” The post also notes that this removal should “help improve the viewer experience and shift engagement to higher performing ad formats on desktop and mobile devices.”
It’s certainly welcome news that YouTube is opting to remove overlay ads, and it does seem a fairly logical decision as well.
For starters, overlay ads are currently only available to users visiting the site via desktop, which is likely a smaller group than mobile users. Plus, the removal is unlikely to significantly impact YouTube creators either as they only made money on these ads when a viewer clicks on one — which the imminent removal would suggest is a rare occurrence.
This is definitely a win for the average user as overlay ads were seriously annoying. They took up a portion of the screen and required physical interaction in order to dismiss. It’s also the first time that YouTube has removed any type of ad from the site. Clearly, overlay ads were doing more harm to the user experience than they were worth and so YouTube has decided they've got to go.
Unfortunately, pre-video ads and mid-roll ads are going absolutely nowhere. These are the most common ads you will encounter on YouTube, and will continue to be present on the site even after overlay ads disappear in just a few weeks' time. Of course, you could always sign up for YouTube Premium which costs $11.99 a month and includes the removal of all ads among its myriad of benefits.
Meanwhile, if you’re looking to get even more out of your YouTube experience, we’ve got a suite of handy guides to walk you through some of the site’s glossed-over but very useful features. This includes how to download YouTube videos as well as an explainer on how to set up YouTube Parental Controls.