Before the pandemic, very few people outside of industries that require regular video calls had ever heard of Zoom. In 2021, Zoom is ubiquitous. Its popularity inevitably died down as the world opened back up, but many of us still use “zoom” as a verb. Furthermore, even as the infection rate continues to drop, many people are still working from home. As such, it should come as no surprise that Zoom wants to capitalize on its continued popularity by introducing ads.
Zoom is testing ads on free users
Zoom’s Chief Marketing Officer Janine Pelosi published a blog post this week regarding the service’s pilot advertising program. Initially, Zoom users with the Basic plan that join meetings hosted by other Basic users will see ads on the browser page that loads after the call concludes. This will only apply to free Basic users in certain countries, and the ads won’t appear during the actual calls.
“We have carefully and thoughtfully considered how to implement this advertising pilot program, and we have done so with the goal of ensuring user choice,” says the Zoom CMO. “Users will see a banner on Zoom’s website that provides a link that takes them to our cookie management tool.”
Pelosi says ads will help ensure that free users can continue to use Zoom in the future. Currently, the Basic plan lets users host unlimited group meetings for up to 40 minutes, as well as unlimited one-to-one meetings for up to 30 hours. Basic users also have access to private and group chat. Meanwhile, the Pro plan costs $14.99 a month and extends the group call time limit to 30 hours.
In all likelihood, your first questions regarding this pilot program all concern privacy. Zoom wants to cut those concerns off at the pass by confirming that it will not “use meeting, webinar, or messaging content (specifically, audio, video, files, and messages) for any marketing, promotions, or third-party advertising purposes.” So make of that what you will.
Will there be any fallout?
The fact that Zoom is finding a way to make money off of its free users isn’t especially surprising. A single ad in a browser window after a call likely won’t be enough to scare anyone away from the video teleconferencing app. Honestly, the most surprising thing about this news might be that Zoom hadn’t already bombarded free users with ads. Virtually every major service with a free tier is supported by ads. It was only a matter of time before the biggest name in video calls got in on the fun.