Zoom to start showing ads to some free users

To keep its service free, Zoom will experiment with displaying ads after video calls.

On Monday, the company announced that it is rolling out a “pilot ad program” for non-paying Basic users in certain countries. So far, the ads appear only for Zoom calls viewed in a web browser.

“For this introductory program, ads will only be rolled out on the browser page that users see when they end their meeting,” the company said. “Only free Basic users in certain countries will see these ads if they attend meetings held by other free Basic users.”

How the ads will appear.

How the ads will appear.

Zoom says the ads will “enable us to support investment and continue to provide free Basic users with access to our robust platform.” Its growth exploded last year during the pandemic, and the video conferencing service is still in demand to this day.

“With this in mind, we are today excited to roll out a pilot ad program that we expect will enable us to support investment and continue to provide free Basic users with access to our robust platform,” the company said.

However, Zoom emphasizes that it will not use data from user video calls for ad targeting. “As stated in our privacy statement, we will not use meeting, webinar or messaging content (specifically audio, video, files and messages) for any marketing, promotional or third party advertising purposes,” the company said.

Instead, the ads will rely on browser-based cookies to provide relevant marketing to users. The banner ads on the Zoom website will also include a link that gives users access to the cookie management tool.

Zoom did not provide a list of countries where the ads will appear. But the program is ready to pave the way for a major expansion in the future. We have contacted Zoom for more information and we will update the story if we hear back.

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