Advertising Comes to Skype

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.

Foursquare 3.0 Has Something “Special” for Merchants

Foursquare has just announced an upgrade that puts the power of perks into the merchant’s hands. With Foursquare 3.0, merchants will be able to run a variety of specials at the same time, each designed to capitalize on a different kind of customer. Best of all, Foursquare has already done the ground work, so it’s pretty much follow the steps, click the buttons and go.

With the new system, you’ll have a choice of five new customer options and two loyalty programs for existing customers. Under the new heading you have Flash Specials. These are rewards that go out for a very short period of time to the first people who check-in at a specified location. Combine this option with a Facebook fan page blast and you’ve got a very powerful tool for bringing in business on a slow day.

Facebook Releases Real-Time Analytics For Social Plugins

Facebook has announced the release of a new set of real-time metrics for folks using their social media plugins on their website. The new version of Facebook Insights provides in-depth performance data on “like” buttons including impressions, referrals and demographics.

Last week, Facebook made a move to push all third-party sites to use the “like” button instead of the “share” button and it looks like it was all leading to this new update.

The new version of Insights shows you how many people saw your “like” button on your website, how many clicked and and conversely, how many people went from your Facebook page to your website. They also provide the same data for the “comment box” option.

Google Adds Instant Previews to Mobile

Google now has instant previews when you search using your mobile phone and this time, it’s a good thing.

Unlike the online version of Instant Preview, the mobile version doesn’t begin showing results until you’ve finished typing in the search box. Then, like its online big brother, Google shows a list of options, each with a magnifying glass beside it.

Online, when you click the magnifier, you get a pop-up of the preview. On mobile, when you click on the magnifier, previews of the first few pages load on your phone and you can flip through them to find the one you want. No more clicking back and forth.

Twitter’s New Quickbar Promotes Trends Over Tweets

Twitter’s new iPhone update is all about helping you Tweet faster and easier, but like everything in life, it has a downside. In this case, it’s an overlay with the latest Trends that resides at the top of your timeline and it can’t be removed.

If you’re interesting in going along with the majority, or you’re an online writer looking to capitalize on some SEO, then the Quickbar is a nifty tool. It scrolls sideways to show you the top trends and when you click on them, you’re taken to search results for that item. In other words, it’s useless for most Twitter Tweeters.

The update isn’t all bad, though, they actually added a couple of tools that are very helpful including a camera button on the Tweet blank so you can upload photos instantly and an auto URL shortener.

Simon & Schuster Turns to Webcam Videos to Connect Authors and Readers

If you could ask your favorite author anything, what would you ask? Would it be a question about how to become a best selling author? A query about the motivations of a character or something more personal like, what would you do if you found out your date had false teeth?

No question is off limits on Simon & Schuster’s Ask the Author page, but just cause you can ask, doesn’t mean you’ll get an answer. Unlike canned interviews of the past, this new program is set up so fans can leave a question for a particular author and get a video response back at a later date. You can also scan through a list of current questions and listen to the answers that have already been recorded. The whole thing is made possible by and if you visit their webpage you’ll see how other businesses have used their conversational video software to connect with their readers and fans.

Turning Social Media Followers into Brand Evangelists

Do you know VABeachKevin? He’s a guy on Twitter who might answer your question if you’re confused about a product from Omniture. Funny thing is, he doesn’t work for the company. He’s just a guy who likes the product and likes to share what he knows. He’s a brand evangelist and his word is worth more than ten tweets from a salesman on the company Twitter.

Brian Watkins of Adobe has an interesting new webcast available that talks about how you can get your own VaBeachKevin, because seriously, we all need at least one like him.