Skype has always been one of those things that seemed too good to be true for me. Free phone calls, of any length and with better-than-landline sound quality. Sure, they had their pay-as-you-go calls to landlines etc but with the cheap-calls market as saturated as it is, that never seemed like a long-term business plan to me.
Today, Skype announced on their blog that they’ll be introducing ads to their software. Thankfully, Skype are savvy enough to know that intrusive ads mid-conversation would cause a lot of people to hang up permanently. In their post, Skype were quick to point out that “The ads won’t interrupt your Skype experience. You won’t suddenly see annoying pop-up ads or flashy banner ads in middle of conversations.”
The ads will initially feature just on the ‘Home’ tab but I’m sure over time we’ll see them introduced elsewhere too. More interestingly though will be what level of targeting they’ll be able to provide. Ads will be location-targeted by country as you’d expect (though you can opt out of this) but what other data can Skype glean from your calls?
Google Voice, only available in the US at the moment, is a free service that routes all your calls through one number, so that all your phones ring at the same time and you have one centralised voice-mail. Oh, and free voice-to-text transcription. Sound confusing? There’s an explanatory video here that shows just how compelling an offering this is.
Google Voice caused a lot of concern about privacy when it launched but it seems to have settled now. The temptation will be huge for Skype to offer an extra level of personalisation to their advertising offering, I’ll be interested to see how this goes for them. Hopefully they won’t go the way The Onion predicted…Follow Shane on Twitter: @shane_casey