Users of Zoom‘s free tier might start seeing advertisements on the platform as part of a new pilot programme.
The ads will only be used on the browser page displayed when users end a meeting, and will not appear during calls. This will also only be implemented on the basic tier of the service.
Banner ads will appear at the top of the browser screen and there will also be a link that lets users manage cookies.
It marks a significant change from Zoom, which became a household name during the pandemic largely because of its free tier. However, there have been questions about how it would monetise its free users as the world returned to some type of normalcy.
The basic service allows users to host group meetings for up to 40 minutes, but there will potentially be a new restriction on the basic tier, one which Zoom says is a necessary step.
“This change ensures that our free Basic users are able to continue connecting with friends, family, and colleagues with the same robust platform we have always offered,” Janine Pelosi, Zoom’s chief marketing officer, wrote in a blog post.
Zoom has spent much of 2021 trying to grow beyond a video conferencing platform, investing heavily into hybrid working capabilities, which included a $100 million fund for startups to build applications on the platform.
The company has also been busy with potential acquisitions; it recently announced plans to acquire German machine learning startup Karlsruhe Information Technology Solutions. The firm also attempted to make a multi-billion dollar takeover of customer service software maker Five9. But the deal was called off, reportedly due to Five9 investor concerns, with US regulators also uneasy about the takeover.