Online calling service Skype has announced that from this week they will roll out ads in the chat client. The site has already tied up with Visa, Groupon and Universal pictures, and new advertising will appear in the home page in Skype.
As of now, Skype’s main source of revenue has been paid calls to telephone numbers, enabling users to use VoIP to make cheap long distance calls. With competing services like Google Voice and the costs associated with scaling up, Skype is looking to expand its earnings, and Skype CMO Doug Brewsher notes on the company blog that the ads will be unobtrusive and “won’t interrupt your Skype experience”.
The ads will initially appear in the UK, the US and Germany, and according to Brewsher, “you may only see ads occasionally. Our initial plan is to show an ad from one brand per day in each of the markets where advertising is being sold.”
He also added, “We may use non-personally identifiable demographic data (for example, location, gender and age) to target ads, which helps ensure that you see relevant ads. For example, if you’re in the US, we don’t want to show you ads for a product that is only available in the UK”. He further wrote on the blog that users could choose to opt out of this data being shared with advertisers.
Skype’s move comes after the company mulled over advertising for some time. In May 2010, then CEO Josh Silverman had told The Telegraph the company was challenged to keep Skype-to-Skype calls free and maintain quality of service. That led the Skype team to “seriously consider” including ads from third parties. Advertising represents an enticing potential source of revenues for Skype. In its prospectus with the SEC, Skype cited advertising as one of its potential sources of income.
American magazine Fortune had concluded from the SEC prospectus that advertising could bring in $200 million in annual revenues for Skype.
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