Last week Skype announced on its blog the roll out of Conversation Ads, a new service that displays advertisments during audio calls.
The ads, which are will be silent and non-expanding, currently only appear on 1:1 audio calls made from Skype for Windows.
Users who have credit or a Skype subscription are exempt for now.
Skype says Conversaion Ads, which are available in 55 countries (including Australia) are "an opportunity for marketers to reach our hundreds of millions of connected users in a place where they can have meaningful conversations about brands in a highly engaging environment."
The company said that it may use non-personally identifiable demographics to target the ads, including location, gender, or age. Skype explained this targeting “will help ensure that non-paying users see ads that are of greater interest and relevance to them.”
Microsoft purchased Skype for $US8.5 billion in 2011, and this marks the company's first move to insert ads on the popular, previously ad-free service.
How Skype's users will respond to an ad interrupting their personal phone calls remains to be seen. Skype insists it is open to feedback, asserting "as we roll out this and additional commercial experiences in the future, we will continue to test, learn and make any necessary adjustments along the way."
Along with the recent introduction of Facebook Sponsored Posts, previously free (or ad-free) social media platforms and services are beginning to dabble in advertising.
If Conversation Ads prove unsuccessful with consumers it could prove a boon for Google+, which offers Hangouts on Air, a free video calling service where users can chat with up to nine friends free of charge (and advertisements).
Conversaton Ads is now available for brands in Australia. To learn more click here.