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(Credit: Wachiwit/iStock)

Spotify (download for iOS or Android) is cracking down on listeners using ad blockers on the free version of the app.

The music and podcast streaming service updated its user guidelines to say that as of March 1, any account using an ad blocker will be suspended or shut down.

Last March, Spotify found that two million users were using ad blockers on the free version of the app. The discovery happened before the company's planned public offering on the New York Stock Exchange, forcing it to restate its key metric usage.

SEE: Best Spotify alternatives for streaming music in 2019

Even before the final numbers were tallied, Spotify was fighting unauthorized third-party Android apps that let users block ads. The apps allowed users to essentially access Spotify's Premium features, like unlimited song skips, for free, when it typically costs $10 per month.

Spotify sent notifications to users whose accounts showed "abnormal activity" and warned them that if they continued to use the apps, their account would be suspended or terminated.

The streaming service wasn't ignoring its users' distaste for ads, however. Last August, Spotify quietly launched Active Media in Australia, giving users a choice in their ad experience.

"This is a win-win: users benefit from an improved experience that allows them to choose the ads they want to engage with," Spotify said at the time of release. "Spotify learns from each engagement, fueling a more personalized ad experience. Advertisers only pay for completed listens and views from an engaged audience."

Active Media would give Spotify users an ad experience similar to that on YouTube. On the video streaming site, when ads play, there's sometimes a Skip Ad option that appears after a few seconds.

It remains to be seen when Active Media will have a wider release.

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Takeaways

  1. Spotify is cracking down on listeners using ad blockers on the free version of the app. The company said it will suspend or terminate accounts found to be using the software.
  2. Last August, Spotify quietly launched Active Media in Australia, which would give users the ability to pick and choose which ads they watch in their entirety.

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Shelby is an Associate Writer for CNET's Download.com. She served as Editor in Chief for the Louisville Cardinal newspaper at the University of Louisville. She interned as Creative Non-Fiction Editor for Miracle Monocle literary magazine. Her work appears in Glass Mountain Magazine, Bookends Review, Soundings East, and on Louisville.com. Her cat, Puck, is the best cat ever.