By: Nick Gambino

The meteoric rise of Zoom can be attributed almost entirely to the pandemic. With most of the world forced indoors, we had to find a way to continue to interact on a business level, and the best way to do that was with video call software. Zoom’s easy-to-use interface and free accounts, not to mention replaceable backgrounds, make it the best choice. And thus “Zoom” entered our everyday lexicon much the way we use “Google.”

Now the company is looking to start placing ads on free accounts.

“Today 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,” Chief Marketing Officer for Zoom, Janine Pelosi, said in a blog post. “For this initial program, ads will be rolled out only on the browser page users see once they end their meeting.”

The ads are intended to be limited so as to not interrupt the clutter-free experience that made Zoom a go-to tool for businesses the world over. As Pelosi said, ads will only appear at the end of the meeting once the call is complete.

They will also only appear for Basic users when the meeting is hosted by another Basic user. In other words, if you have a free account but the person who sent you the Zoom meeting link to join pays for their account, you won’t see ads.

Whenever ads make their way onto any platform, there’s cause for concern. With privacy violations a very real thing, even with the biggest companies, we want to know how our personal data is going to be used or shared.

Pelosi discusses this in her blog post. They promise not to use any “meeting, webinar, or messaging content (specifically, audio, video, files, and messages) for any marketing, promotions, or third-party advertising purposes.”

Does that mean they won’t use any of your information for third-party advertising? No. It just means they won’t use the content of your meetings or messages for marketing purposes. Their privacy statement says they’ll use things like account info (including your name), device info, usage info, etc.

For now, it’s just a pilot and as long as the ads don’t become intrusive on the interface or meeting experience then it’ll be alright.