Since it was first revealed to the public in 2003-2004, people have been using Skype to stay in touch with friends and family face-to-face (or camera-to-camera). It is used in the business world for telecommuting and meetings with clients across the globe.  It’s hard to find anyone that hasn’t heard of this breakthrough software. When it started to spread like wildfire, the people at Microsoft saw great potential and decided to buy it in 2011.  Now, Microsoft has seized this opportunity and has come up with a revolutionary marketing technique that promises to be incredibly effective.

Being that Skype has been a free service from the get-go, it isn’t a surprise that Microsoft has decided to start using it for marketing purposes.  Any user who doesn’t pay for the use of Skype, as paying for it is optional, should expect to see advertisements on-screen during their calls.  Putting the ad directly in front of the user while they are in conversation is perfect.

“We know from our research that people on Skype are more likely to discuss products, make recommendations, and decide what to buy with their close relatives and friends,” Joslyn Moore writes.  Joslyn is Microsoft’s general manager of advertising incubations. She continues to explain the new opportunities that brands have to be the topic of conversation for millions of Skype calls. This will help to boost, “Word-of-mouth and social influence in a tight-knit circle of trust,” she writes.

Some would think these new on-screen ads a burden, but Microsoft has taken careful steps in avoiding a bother to the user.  The advertisement is presented in a 300 x 250 rectangle during audio calls.  The “Conversation Ads,”as Microsoft refers to them, appear pristine and leave room for eye movement, allowing the advertisement to, “compliment the consumer interaction.”  Most importantly though, the ads will be silent for the sake of the consumer. Furthermore, at any point during the conversation, a user can choose to close the ad box. So far, the ads have only appeared on the Windows version of Skype but, this new advertising feature is now available to over 55 markets worldwide, a number which is expected to grow quickly.

Microsoft’s marketing growth will not stop here, however. On their blog, Joslyn notes that in the near future they will continue to find original ways to, “engage consumers in this unique environment.”  Microsoft has been working on bringing  new advertising aspects to the recent Windows phone and the extremely popular Xbox Kinect using Skype and other Windows applications.

It’s hard to find a marketing method that puts consumers face-to-face with advertising as often as the new Skype ads will. With between 20 and 40 million calls made each day using Skype, this marketing technique has to be effective. Skype users won’t mind the new feature, and brands and advertisers will get the word out about products and services. This method seems like it will inevitably result in a win-win situation for all.

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