Not necessarily a bad thing: Skype’s plans to monetize its video chatting service through serving advertisements. While this move will inevitably provoke some backlash from Skype users–since they’ve enjoyed Skype’s free service with no advertising—it may revolutionize the way advertisers connect with customers. This shift will allow for banner ads to reach consumers in a way that they might not on similar sites.
While most websites require constant visual interaction—by either reading text or watching video—Skype does not require its users to visually absorb content from the service in order to utilize it. As a result, a user’s eyes have more time to wander toward advertisements while using Skype than they would on Hulu or NYTimes.com.
It’s even possible that these ads could be pleasant distractions for many users. For example, while you’re listening to your Aunt Millie describing the daily activities of her 13 cats or tolerating an irrelevant conference call, an advertisement—especially an interactive one—may go from an annoyance to a welcome diversion.
And this new role of advertisements as pleasant distractions could make Skype a new outlet for all of the IQ quizzes and political survey offers which frequently enjoy many impressions, but don’t necessarily result in as many clicks or leads as they once used to.
Skype’s loyal following affords it great flexibility in experimenting with new advertising approaches, like innovations in geo-marketing, which presents ads catered to the locations of both users. Deals like “Hotel Deals in New York” or “Low Fares From Dallas to Denver” may enjoy new levels of user engagement. Additionally, incentive-based e-mail marketing may also find a niche on Skype—especially with campaigns that reward a Skype user’s willingness to enter his e-mail into a banner ad by giving him a fun way ignore Aunt Millie’s rants about kitty litter: By playing Frogger.