Put this one in the “surprised it hasn’t happened before now column,” Skype will start showing ads on their desktop application beginning this week.
Skype says that the 650 x 170 pixel ads will run only on the profile home page but given that they added an enormous, useless box to the top of their chat screens, it’s likely that this will soon be ad space, too.
Despite the amount of real estate the ads will take up, they really aren’t that intrusive as long as they remain graphical. But Skype says they’ll be happy to run video ads and that can get annoying seeing as the whole purpose of the app is to communicate (listen) to others. If customers have to wait for the car commercial to end before they can dial, that’s going to be a problem.
Skype is also offering Click & Call ads which allows the viewer to contact the advertiser without leaving the application. Is this likely? How many people will decide to put off their scheduled Skype meeting so they can click and chat with a Visa rep?
Visa is Skype’s first advertising partner. Groupon, Nokia and Universal Pictures are also on board. Rather than selling the ads in-house, Skype is working with three advertising companies: Meebo in the US, Ad2One in the UK, and Ströer Interactive in Germany.
Skype’s Cheif Marketing Officer, Doug Bewsher says the response from advertisers has been very positive, but what about the response from customers?
As you might expect, the company blog is already filled with people complaining about ads that haven’t even appeared yet. The one question that remains unanswered, is what happens with paid accounts? One would assume that paid accounts would be exempt from advertising, but that doesn’t appear to be the case.
“The user experience on Skype is always job number one. So, we’ve spent a lot of time working through the best way to show advertising in the Skype environment. We believe our daily sponsorship ad from one brand per day is valuable for premier advertisers, but doesn’t detract from the experience for our users. We are just taking our first steps in this space and we expect to test and learn a lot as we move forward.”
The Skype blog tries to reassure the frazzled few by saying that “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.”
They also assure that the ads won’t pop-up and interrupt your conversation. A very good thing.
But then there’s this:
“We may use non-personally identifiable demographic data (e.g. 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.”
Which leads to this:
“You can opt out of allowing Skype to share this non-personally identifiable demographic data with advertisers from the Privacy tab in Tools ▸ Options.”
Does the fact that Skype is now running ads bother you? Is it a legitimate privacy concern or just the price you have to pay for access to an excellent online tool?