Microsoft Advertising is rolling out what it calls a “Conversation Ad” for Skype — a 300×250 medium rectangle that sits in the Windows version of the client when a non-paying user is on a call. It’s the first new advertising format since the company bought Skype for $8.5 billion last year.
“Right from the start, we’ve been working together to identify ad opportunities that strike the right balance between protecting the wonderful Skype consumer experience and creating meaningful opportunities that enable you to tell brand stories,” Jos Moore, general manager of advertising incubations at Microsoft, wrote on the company’s blog.
Though Microsoft touts the opportunity as something “that allows you[r brand] to be a part of the 1 billion Skype-to-Skype calls that happen every day,” it remains to be seen whether an ad unit would really spark conversations between the folks talking via the service.
Microsoft has taken great care to avoid intruding into people’s use of Skype, so the ad doesn’t contain audio. It also can be closed down by the user.
The new ad format is now available in more than 55 international markets and the company is expanding to other markets, as well. It’s only showing on the Windows version of the client.
In addition to integrating advertising into Skype, Microsoft has been working to make the communication tool work on its other products, including Xbox, Kinect and Windows Phone.