From this week, Skype users can expect to see and hear advertisements while using the free internet telephony client, the company announced on Monday.
Major brands including Groupon, Nokia, Universal Picture and Visa have already locked in advertising deals with Skype.
Ads will appear in Skype's new "Home" tab, which will expand from a user's list of contacts. Windows users are set to be the first recipients.
Skype claims advertisers should reach around 145 million eyeballs a month or up to 29 million people at once, according to its December 2010 figures.
Skype sales will be done via partnerships, which have so far only been established in the US, UK and Germany. It did not clarify whether Australian users would see ads yet.
Skype’s chief marketing officer, Doug Bewsher, reckons ads "done in the right way will add more value into the Skype experience as a whole”.
Whether users see it that way remains to be seen. Skype has faced a small number of complaints in the past for even advertising its own services, according to its forums.
Skype’s advertisers have been offered several new options to make targeting and contact with potential customers easy.
Its “Click and Call” feature launched last year will allow direct calls to advertisers. Skype will also offer targeted advertising using demographic data, including age, gender and location.
“If you’re in the US, we don’t want to show you ads for a product that is only available in the UK,” Bewsher explained on Skype’s blog.
Users will be able to opt-out from sharing this information, said Bewsher.
President and chief operating officer of email group buying marketer Groupon is certainly pleased with the ad deal.
"We look forward to leveraging Skype's new display advertising to connect Groupon to an even larger captive audience," he said.