Zoom Starts Showing Adverts For Free Users

Currently in a pilot program, Zoom says adverts will help improve its service.

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.

While the rollout isn't yet universal, anyone who wants to enjoy their video calls advert-free should consider moving to a paid plan (starting from $14.99), or ditching Zoom for a competitor.

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

Zoom has also updated its privacy policy to reflect these changes in the way it advertises to its users.

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.

Read our dedicated Zoom pricing guide

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:

0 out of 0
Price from
The lowest starting price for a paid plan. The lowest price available for your business will depend on your needs.
Best for
Free plan
Audio-Conferencing
Pros
Cons

Zoho Meeting

GoTo Meeting

Zoom

RingCentral

Webex

Google Meet

Microsoft Teams

Lifesize

BlueJeans

$5/month

$4/month

$12-$16/month

Zoho users

Overall conference calling

Beginners

Longer meetings

Larger businesses

Google users

Microsoft users

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

  • Free – no time limit
  • Browser functionality
  • SSL/128-bit AES encryption
  • High quality video
  • Reliable and secure
  • Lower cost than competitors
  • Easy to use
  • Feature-rich free version available
  • Intuitive interface
  • Lots of customizability
  • Affordable
  • Feature-rich software
  • High quality video
  • Easy setup
  • Google Calendar compatibility
  • Saves chat logs
  • Easy integration with Google apps
  • Completely free
  • 300 participants
  • Integrates with Microsoft 365
  • 1080p video and HD audio,
  • Integrates with third-party apps
  • Good value
  • Amazing sound quality
  • Lots of features
  • Many software integrations
  • Recording costs extra
  • Weak free plan
  • Poor audio quality
  • No analytics
  • Free – no single sign-on
  • Occasional bandwidth issues
  • Spotty connectivity
  • No gallery view for guests
  • Steep learning curve
  • Unsophisticated chat function
  • Connectivity issues without update
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Written by:

Jack is the Deputy Editor for Tech.co. He has over 15 years experience in publishing, having covered both consumer and business technology extensively, including both in print and online. Jack has also led on investigations on topical tech issues, from privacy to price gouging. He has a strong background in research-based content, working with organisations globally, and has also been a member of government advisory committees on tech matters.

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