Skype just announced that it will now begin to show some of its users ads during 1:1 audio calls. These so-called “conversation ads” will only appear for users who don’t have Skype credit or a subscription and, for the time being, these ads will only appear on Skype for Windows, though chances are the company, which is now owned by Microsoft, will also bring these ads to its OS X client in the future. The company stresses that these ads will “be silent, non-expanding and run after we’ve completed our regular detailed quality checks on your connection.”
Marketers will be able to purchase these ads in 55 markets where Skype is available. Ads will be targeted based on “non-personally identifiable” demographic information like location, gender and age. Users will have the option to opt out of Skype using their demographic information.
Skype is obviously quite excited about this launch, though it remains to be seen how users will react. The announcement today argues that Skype is a place where users can “have meaningful conversations about brands in a highly engaging environment.” That’s obviously the stuff marketers dream of, but in reality, users probably won’t think of these ads as generating “fun interactivity between your circle of friends and family and the brands you care about” (hence the name, “conversation ads,” I guess).
This is Skype’s second major push into advertising after launching ads on its Home tab last year.
Skype allows you to make calls to other Skype users for free, but calls aren’t the only thing you can do with Skype. Its extensive features included IM chat with contacts, group chats, video calling, conference calling, file transfers and money transfers via PayPal. Skype lets you import your Outlook contacts into your Skype contact list and once their imported you can easily organize them into handy groups. A nice feature for people who don’t want to miss calls...