Zoom has announced that is it has begun showing adverts for users on its free tier.
Currently part of a pilot program, Zoom states that this move is to enable it to improve and ‘support investment' in the platform.
Zoom Introduces Adverts
It's fair to say that Zoom has been a great deal for many on the free plan – especially during the pandemic when it went from obscurity to a household name, seemingly overnight. In fact, Zoom is now a verb in its own right, such is the omnipotence of the platform.
While the free tier is basic, it is still generous enough. Free calls for 2 people are capped at 30 hours, not a bad deal when you consider that some providers have a one hour cap. Introduce another person and the cut off is 40 minutes, but even then you can simply reconnect again straight away.
It's perhaps not surprising then that Zoom would look to increase its revenue from its huge 300 million user base, and with vaccinations on the rise and the return to the office underway, Zoom shares are down 50% from their highest value. The company has had a fairytale couple of years, but with increased competition and offices opening back up, it's not looking quite as dominant as it once did.
What to Expect from the Zoom Adverts
As announced on the company blog, Zoom has begun to introduce adverts in a pilot program, that will be seen by free basic users in certain countries.
The adverts will appear if a free user connects to another free user, and will show when the meeting has finished. The adverts will only appear (for now at least) for those using Zoom in a browser – anyone using the app should be able to carry on, ad-free.
“We are excited to roll out a pilot advertising program that we expect will enable us to support investment and continue providing free Basic users with access to our robust platform.” – Zoom blog
The company has provided an example of how these adverts will look on the page, as you can see in the image below. It's not too intrusive, and on par with a banner advert that you might see on any website, although it's not a move that everyone is likely to welcome.
Should I Pay for Zoom?
If the news of adverts coming to Zoom has you reeling with horror, then good news, there are plenty of options available to you:
Upgrade your Zoom subscription
The free Zoom tier is just the tip of the iceberg, and if you're looking to do more than catch up with friends or speak to granny at weekends, then we'd recommend upgrading.
Zoom's paid-for tier Zoom Meetings Pro, starts at $14.99, and allows for meetings of more than two people, and up to 100, without that 40 minute cap. In fact, it gives you 30 hours, which should be more than enough for even the most enthusiastic and prolonged call. You'll also benefit from support with live chat, as well as analytical reporting and social media streaming.
Beyond that, there's Zoom Meetings Business, which provides for up to 300 participants, with cloud recording, branded meetings and an admin portal, and starts at $19.99.
Then there's even Zoom Meetings Enterprise, which extends the invite list to a huge 500 participants, offers unlimited cloud storage, as well as a dedicated Customer Success Manager. This is priced at $19.99/license, but users must sign up for at least 100 licenses.
Try another free video calling app
Of course, Zoom isn't the only option. The web conferencing industry has blossomed over the last couple of years, and the competition offered by Zoom has lit a fire under many providers, such as Microsoft Teams and Google Meet, whose products have only gotten better and better.
Take a look at our comparison below for more information:
The lowest starting price for a paid plan. The lowest price available for your business will depend on your needs.
Overall conference calling
Users that need hardware
Users that need customer support
Yes (paid plan) – VoIP, Phone & Toll-Free
Yes – VoIP, Phone & Toll-Free
Yes – Add-on audio plan allows you to add Call Out, global Toll-free & local dial-in for premium countries
Yes – Companies get a single audio conferencing bridge dial-in phone number for easy universal access.
Yes – Audio-only calls can be created when a host generates an Audio pin
Yes – Just call the number listed on the meeting invite, or join via the link and turn off your camera
Yes – but only in selected countries, and each user dialing into meetings will need an audio-conferencing license.
Yes – in a meeting contact card, users can tap the phone number under Details to call using their default phone or voice app
Yes – Easy access to audio conferencing is provided via a traditional PSTN number
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