updated 07:25 pm EDT, Wed June 13, 2012
Skype hopes new feature will spark conversations
Skype has announced that it is launching a new feature: Conversation Ads, according to a blog post on the company site. Users without Skype Credit or subscriptions who make Skype-to-Skype audio calls using the Windows client will now see ad images displayed in their call windows. The company bills the new feature as a means by which to get customers to engage in "meaningful conversations about brands in a highly engaging environment."
Skype will target the ads using non-personally identifiable demographic information on the parties involved in one-to-one audio calls, including location, gender, and age. Users will have the option to opt out of these targeted ads, but will still see non-targeted ads so long as they are using the free service.
Skype has made Conversation Ads available to marketers in 55 countries and assures users that call quality will remain the same. Skype's Creative Acceptance Policy for states that ads cannot expand beyond a 300x250 rectangle and cannot be larger than 40k. The acceptable file types are GIFs, Flash files, and JPEGs. Animations have a 30-second limit and can only loop three times while displayed. Additional restrictions prohibit strobing effects, cursor alteration, and the mimicry of any Windows or Skype products or experiences without prior approval.
While the feature was announced by Skype in September, before Microsoft officially acquired the company, it does dovetail with the software giant's strategy of monetizing services through targeted ad placement. Today also brought news that Microsoft had filed a patent that would develop an ad-placement system based on the Kinect's ability to monitor users' moods.