On Wednesday, Skype announced that it will be offering “conversation ads” for the majority of its customers. The phrasing of that sounds like it’s a great service being provided to the customer, right? Wrong. The ads will appear during audio calls next to the image of the contact you are conversing with. This provides an interesting opportunity for marketers but an annoyance to customers. The most amusing spin on this from Skype was found in their blog announcing the upcoming service:
While on a 1:1 audio call, users will see content that could spark additional topics of conversation that are relevant to Skype users and highlight unique and local brand experiences. So, you should think of Conversation Ads as a way for Skype to generate fun interactivity between your circle of friends and family and the brands you care about.
So don’t think of the ads as a distraction or an annoyance, think of them as conversation starters!
In all seriousness, it makes sense for Skype to build in some sort of advertising when offering a free service. The ads won’t show up if you have a subscription or credits and from the screen-cap it appears that the ad can be closed just by clicking below it. As long as the ads do not become unable to be minimized or closed then it shouldn’t become too big of a distraction. For now, the conversation ads will only be in the Windows desktop version of Skype but don’t be surprised if they appear in the other platforms of Skype as well.
Full details can be found on their blog: http://blogs.skype.com/en/2012/06/skype_advertising_update.html