Skype Eyes Third-Party Ads: A New Playground For Marketers?

Skype, the chat, voice and video calling platform is looking into meshing third-party ads to its services, the Daily Telegraph reported.

Keeping the Business Model Has a Cost
Citing the free online communications platform’s CEO, Josh Silverman, the newspaper said the move is intended to generate new revenue streams as the company is intent on keeping its Skype-to-Skype services free and Skype-to-phones offer extremely competitive.

What Is “Tasteful” When It Comes to Ads ?
“It’s challenging to get right as the way people use is Skype is very personal but we think our users expect us to do it so we can continue to support free. But it will be done in a tasteful way,” Silverman was quoted as saying.

It is not clear how such ads would be inserted into the platform. One could think of two options when it comes to video calling. It could be either integrated to the “dashboard” in the form of banners or rich media, OR it could take the form of TV ads, inserted into the conversation at intervals… Why not ? Silverman said “a tasteful way” but how tasteful is it to insert ads into a service that’s been flying without any since inception ?

skype screen pic.JPG

Ambitious New Offers
Silverman told the Daily Telegraph that in 10 years time, he sees Skype becoming the “fabric of real time communication on the web”

Skype is widely used globally both by individuals and families to stay connected beyond oceans and by businesses using the medium for their communication purposes, both video and voice call.

With that in mind, the company last week announced cuts of up to 60% to some of its Skype-to-telephone calling rates, while at the same time extending its reach to 170 countries.

It is also launching this week a beta version that allows 5-way video calling. According to a report on Mashable, the 5-way video conferencing feature will be available to PC owners first, while Mac users will have to wait until later this year to be able to benefit from it too.

As Silverman told the British daily, he sees the “explosion” of video on the web as “the most exciting” thing happening on the Internet. He said that video calls account for over one third of all Skype calls.

True Calling
Performance and innovation are no doubt there but the platform seems to be struggling to stay true to its calling – i.e. remain free. Mashable reports again that Skype “has plans to bundle it with upcoming features and eventually — in three to four months time — charge for the additional functionalities.”

Security Challenges
Whoever speaks about revenue stream speaks about business models and about competition. More questions arise as Skype and chat platform competitor Yahoo Messenger seem to be the target of malware attacks spreading through their interfaces.
According to security firm Bkis and as cited by Domain.B, “a new worm with highly sophisticated social engineering and payload capabilities is (currently) crawling in cyberspace”.

How do you think you’ll react when Skype introduces ads? How do you feel about security challenges within an ever more open cyberspace?

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