Display ads arrive at Skype

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Facebook acquisition makes big splash
Facebook acquisition makes big splash

Digital communications platform Skype took its first step into advertising in-app last month,
partnering with Meebo to launch display ads for Windows users in the US, UK and Germany. Groupon, Nokia, and Visa were among the first marketers to take advantage of its offer, allowing them to
include audio, video and social media tags in each rich media ad, as well as a click-to-call feature.

Patricio Robles, 

Not surprisingly, Skype's display ad inventory is sure to appeal to marketers, and already the company has blue-chip buyers in brands like Visa, Disney and Volkswagen. The ads also will reportedly support Skype-based calls, giving advertisers the ability to create direct response opportunities within the app. For instance, a company like Visa could use such functionality to field inquiries from prospective cardholders. However, what's good for advertisers isn't necessarily embraced by users.

Alison Diana, 

Skype plans to use non-personally identifiable information such as gender, age and location to target advertising and ensure users see only pertinent ads. However, users can opt-out, preventing Skype from sharing this data with advertisers, the company said. Although some users voiced support for advertising on Skype's free product, they said they hoped the ads would not appear on the paid service. The Skype blog posting did not address whether ads would be limited only to users of Skype's free product. 

Kristen Nicole, 
Time's Techland blog

Between Skype's ongoing expansion plans and existing applications in mobile and social arenas, Skype has an opportunity to establish its social presence. Meebo seems to be a well-planned partner, with its years of chat-driven advertising methods acting as social web experiments all their own.

Nathan Olivarez-Giles, Los Angeles Times

As of now, ads will only show up in the home tab in Skype's application on Microsoft Windows, although the company will be experimenting with ads in other areas and versions of its apps. Skype is promising no "annoying pop-up ads or flashy banner ads in the middle of conversations," and it will use "non personally identifiable demographic data," to target ads to users who are more likely to find them to be relevant. Users can also opt out of allowing Skype to share such demographic data with its advertisers. 


Skype is wise to launch an advertising initiative before expected IPO. It bodes well for the company that household names such as Groupon, Visa and Universal Pictures showed immediate interest in advertising on the platform. It would equally be wise for other brands to consider using the service, which boasts about 139 million monthly users, especially if it offers direct response opportunities. However, Skype must also walk a fine line between raising advertising dollars and keeping consumers satisfied with the quality of its service. 


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