Zoom is piloting ads for free users – TechCrunch

Zoom offers a beta ad program that will serve ads to users at its “basic” free level. The company says that the ads will support the investments and enable it to continue providing its platform to free users.

Primary tier users will only see ads if they join a meeting hosted by another primary user. For initial testing, ads will be shown on the browser page that users see when they end their meeting. Zoom will likely display ads in other areas of the user interface once the initial testing is over.

As part of the beta program, Zoom users will see a banner on its website that provides a link to its cookie management tool so they can manage the ads that are shown to them. Zoom also indicates that it has updated its privacy statement to clarify that it will not use meeting, webinar, or messaging content for any third-party marketing, promotional or advertising purposes.

Image credits: Zoom

Although the company has made it clear that users will not see ads during meetings, this latest move is a significant change for Zoom. The platform’s free basic service allows users to host group meetings of up to 40 minutes, which has allowed Zoom’s popularity to soar amid the pandemic. With this latest change, Zoom is imposing new restrictions on its free basic users, which it says is a necessary step.

“This change ensures that our Free Basic users are able to continue to connect with friends, family, and colleagues through the same powerful platform we’ve always offered,” Janine Pelosi, Zoom’s chief marketing officer, explained in a blog post.

The change comes as Zoom has spent the past year focusing on being more than just a popular video conferencing tool. Earlier this year, the company launched a $100 million fund to invest in companies that build apps based on the company’s platform. Zoom recently made its first round of investments as part of the fund.

In terms of acquisitions, the company recently announced plans to acquire German startup Karlsruhe Information Technology Solutions, or “Kites” for short, to provide real-time machine learning-based translation into its platform. Zoom also planned to acquire Five9, a maker of cloud-based customer service software, but the deal was later scrapped.

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