Zoom starts showing ads to free users in limited test

·Contributing Writer
·1 min read

Zoom users on the free Basic plan may start seeing ads starting today. At the outset, ads will only appear on the browser page after a call ends, and you'll only see them following meetings hosted by other Basic users. The test is limited to certain countries too.

The company has updated its privacy policy to reflect the change. Zoom says it won't use content (in other words, video, audio, messages and files) from meetings, webinars or messaging "for any marketing, promotions, or third-party advertising purposes." The company's advertising partners might use cookies to track your activity on Zoom's website. You can block them from doing so via Zoom's cookie management tool.

Zoom expects the ad program "will enable us to support investment and continue providing free Basic users with access to our robust platform," chief marketing officer Janine Pelosi wrote in a blog post.

Basic users can take part in as many meetings as they like, but there are time limits of 30 minutes on one-on-one calls and 40 minutes on group meetings. They don't have any cloud storage for meeting recordings or access to features like transcripts, either, though the company just rolled out a live transcription/closed captioning option on the free tier.

Zoom became an essential tool for millions amid a widespread shift to remote working as the COVID-19 pandemic took hold last year, and many opted for the free plan, given its solid capabilities. It shouldn't be too surprising that Zoom is moving into advertising, but it seems that, at least for now, the ads will be fairly unobtrusive while respecting users' privacy preferences.

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