Microsoft has confirmed that those unwilling to pay for the Microsoft 365 subscription are now getting more ads in Outlook on iOS and Android. As spotted by numerous users, "native" ads that look like emails show up when users disable "Focused Inbox"—a feature that scans and filters your emails to detect what is important and what is not.
Previously, "free" Outlook users could spot ads only in the "Other" section of the app. Now Outlook on Android and iOS injects ads when customers disable Focused Inbox to keep a single view for all emails. In a statement to The Verge, Microsoft has confirmed the change:
For free users of Outlook, ads are shown in their inbox and they can choose to enable the ‘Focused inbox’ feature if they would like to see ads only in the ‘Other’ inbox.
Outlook users can purchase the Microsoft 365 subscription to get rid of all banners (and get a ton of other features) or enable Focused Inbox to keep at least important emails free from banners. Although ads in Outlook are not disruptive or in-your-face, their email-like look can easily deceive users and make them unwillingly tap the banner.
The influx of ads in popular services is a trend more companies have started to follow to increase their revenue. Apple, for example, recently confirmed that iOS users would see more ads across stock apps, and the change will join existing "native ads" Apple uses to promote its services on iOS and macOS.