Microsoft has upset a large portion of the Skype user community today after it was revealed the internet giant will start displaying banner ads in the middle of conversations being held on the free VoIP and video conferencing service.
While the company is only introducing display ads so far – and nothing will actually interrupt users’ conversations – this hasn’t stopped users from getting angry about the possibility of disruptive audio-based ads being introduced.
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Many businesses use Skype to save on phone costs.
Telsyte research director Foad Fadaghi says the current market is probably more accepting of these ads than they would have been a few years ago.
“I feel that if this were introduced even just a couple of years ago, there would have been more of an uproar, and that’s because I think people are just getting used to in-app advertising because of mobile apps.”
“There are plenty of free apps that have a banner down the bottom showing something related, so consumers understand they’re getting a service that’s subsidised through advertising.”
Plenty of users have already taken to forums complaining about the change, which Skype said in a blog post would be called “conversation ads”.
“While on a 1:1 audio call, users will see content that could spark additional topics of conversation that are relevant to Skype users and highlight unique and local brand experiences.”
Microsoft bought out Skype last year in a deal worth $US8.5 billion. At the time, there was speculation as to whether the software giant would attempt to make the service more profitable.
Now, it’s hoping these ads will prompt actual discussion of the ads in ongoing conversations.
“Microsoft has had ads for many years on MSN messenger, so the majority of people will have experienced this before.”
“For businesses, it might be a different story, and business people might want to remove the ads. But Microsoft has done this before.”
The biggest fear of users is that audio ads will interrupt conversations, but Fadaghi points out this probably won’t happen as there are too many other options.
“If consumers feel like the quality is being traded off, they’ll go somewhere else. If ads take away usability, that would be detrimental, and you may see users going to some of the many other options like FaceTime.”
“But, for now, it just seems like a good business idea for Microsoft to look at how they can get more money from ads.”