Skype to begin placing ads on VoIP and video calls this week

7 Mar 2011

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Ads will begin to appear on Skype voice and video over IP software this week, the company said. Groupon, Nokia, Universal and Visa are among the first brands to sell advertising on the Skype platform, which accounts for 13pc of all calls globally.

Skype today announced the launch of advertising in Skype software, which will appear in the Home tab of Skype for Windows starting this week. This move represents the first time that advertising will appear in Skype.

Skype has partnered with leading advertising companies: Meebo in the US, Ad2One in the UK, and Ströer Interactive in Germany to sell advertising for Skype in each of their respective markets.

With 145m average monthly connected users for the fourth quarter of 2010 and 29m concurrent users at peak times, Skype’s reach and engaged user base makes it an attractive platform for brands to market their products. The first advertisers to sign up with Skype include Groupon, Nokia, Universal Pictures and Visa.

“We’re really pleased by the initial response among advertisers,” said Doug Bewsher, chief marketing officer for Skype.

“We believe advertising on Skype helps fill a creative gap by giving brands a platform that has broad reach and global engagement, while also supporting large-format, rich and interactive ads.”

Skype “Home” provides a sponsored large masthead space at 650 × 170 pixels expandable to 650 × 340 pixels for advertisers to display ads that can include audio or video.

Since the ads are on Skype, advertisers can add a Click & Call button in the ad as another call to action. In addition, it allows people to share the ad with their Facebook or Twitter accounts, and with one-click, ads can also be closed with the Close Ad button.

“The user experience on Skype is always job No 1. 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,” said Bewsher.

“We are just taking our first steps in this space and we expect to test and learn a lot as we move forward.”

Skype was started in Sweden in 2003 by Niklas Zennström and his business partner Janus Friis. They sold Skype to eBay in 2005 for US$2.6bn.

In 2009, Zennström was part of the consortium that bought Skype from eBay and he currently sits on the board of the internet telephone company. Zennström and Friis now run their own venture capital firm, Atomico, which has a fund of US$165m and has invested in 30 companies, such as Last.fm and Xobni.

Skype-to-Groupon

“Many people log into Skype as part of their daily routine, just like they check Groupon,” said Rob Solomon, president and COO of Groupon.

“We look forward to leveraging Skype’s new display advertising to connect Groupon to an even larger captive audience."

“Skype is known for great value with its low-cost calls to mobiles and landline phones, and free Skype-to-Skype voice and video calls. We believe that advertising, done in the right way, will help us continue to add more value into the Skype experience as a whole,” said Bewsher.

Skype’s advertising sales partners in the US, UK, and Germany will help present advertisers with the opportunity to market on Skype.

Editor John Kennedy is an award-winning technology journalist.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com