5th November 2021
Zoom is testing ads for free users on the Basic version of its service. This is the first time the platform has had any form of advertising available.
Zoom is introducing a pilot advertising program that will show ads to users on the ‘Basic’ version of its service, which is free to users. The company said that it was looking to support ways to enable it to continue providing its platform to free users and the ads will be shown on the browser page that a user sees when the meeting ends and will only been shown to the users on the Basic tier who are in meetings with other users on the Basic tier.
There is only one ad placement in testing for now, but it is possible that this may expand in the future. The company has however made it clear that people won’t see ads during meetings. The test is taking place across several countries.
On the Basic service, users can host free meetings for up to 40 minutes on group calls and 30 minutes on one-on-one calls. The free service gained huge popularity during the pandemic as it was an easy way for people to stay in contact with friends and family. Other than the time, Zoom’s free version has had limited restrictions on users and even provided end-to-end encryption despite initially saying it would only be available for paid users.
Janine Pelosi, Chief Marketing Officer at Zoom said: “this change ensures that our free Basic users are able to continue connecting with friends, family and colleagues with the same robust platform we have always offered.”
Zoom has said that it won’t be using meetings, webinars or messaging content to target ads and has updated its Privacy Statement accordingly. In the pilot, Zoom users will see a banner on its website that provides a link to a cookies management tool so they can manage whether their cookies are tracked on the site or not.
Initially a business focused service, Zoom gained millions of new users as it become a key way for family and friends to keep in touch during various lockdowns, so it is not surprising it is now finding a way to monetise its huge user base of mainly free users.
Whether Zoom expands its ad offering beyond its test on the browser page remains to be seen but given Zoom’s scale it provides new opportunities for advertisers to tap into the world of video calls that have been normalized in the last 18 months.