We are disappointed.
"Zoom supports continued access for Basic users with advertising program. 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.", states Zoom's blog post.
The company that greatly helped the world through the pandemiс and lockdowns, set up remote work for hundreds of thousands of companies, change the very way millions of people work and communicate... that company degenerated into showing ads.
When a highly demanded paid app vendor starts making money from ads, this is not a good sign. Evolution and progress usually go the reverse way.
Yes, businesses always search for new opportunities to grow. For new sources of income. Public companies search for new ways to make investors and the market happy. That's how capitalism works. But there comes the moment when the supply of simple ways to raise profit runs out, and the time comes to work hard on product development.
But there's always a middle manager who comes up with a million dollar idea: let's not be all that "we are a paid app, we take money from the user". Let's sell ads! Minimal effort to get a new source of income!
And they start with a small banner at the website that bothers nobody and is almost not visible at all. Well, some users might see it and get disappointed, ads are annoying after all. But most of the disappointed users are not yet ready to flee to competitors. It is stressful. It takes time, often already reserved for other plans. It means reorganizing workflows. It might be altogether impossible if a company's management has reasons not to switch to a competing solution.
Meanwhile, first profits from advertising emerge. The process needs to be managed, and an advertising department appears. It has one job: to make more money, and it starts doing that. First, they just sell some more ads: we've got an app installed by millions of users, why limit ourselves with the website? Let's serve ads there too! Users get more upset, but the potential stress and fuss associated with switching to a different solution keeps outweighing the displeasure with ads. Some of the frustrated users even acquire the paid version — but not because they need extra functions. Not because it would make them more productive, just because it'd make them less angry. The whole ordeal with ads may even result in a short-term profit growth, so the company management is sure they are doing the right thing.
And of course, eventually there comes the question of serving more relevant ads, of harvesting data and selling it too, and then data leaks follow, we've seen all that too many times.
This is why we like it when companies make products people are willing to pay for. When companies do not gather data needed solely for advertising and thus create all the risks associated with storing and processing it. What we don't like is when they discover a way to get easy money that rids them of hard work on improving their products and getting better.
We at AdGuard are actively using Zoom, we pay for it, and we like it. We clearly see its value for us and its significance for today's world. We wish Zoom best, and it does not include turning into an ad junkyard. And if you had any doubts — yes, we will be blocking ads in Zoom, because we beleive it would be better this way not only for Zoom users, but for the company and the product itself.
P.S.: let us quickly remind you that Zoom became one of the main COVID beneficiaries of the world. They made huge money on this global crisis. Sky-high sales in 2020, stock growth that had been quite steady even before the pandemic — the company definitely does not struggle for survival.