Skype Launches In-App Advertising, Limited To Windows For Now

As Skype gears up to list on the Nasdaq, the free Internet voice and video calling company is rolling out more services to generate revenue. Today it announced that it will be featuring in-app advertising, starting with its Windows client in the U.S., UK and Germany.

In a post on Skype’s blog, Doug Bewsher, the company’s chief marketing officer, notes that the ads will appear on the Home tab only “occasionally.” Initially, he says, the idea will be to one ad per brand, per day in the three markets.

Launch advertisers include Groupon, Universal Pictures and Visa. Launch partners for the advertising services are Meebo in the U.S.; Ad2One in the UK; and Strorer Interactive in Germany. (An example of an ad is illustrated to the left.) No details on advertising rates.

Targeting. Skype says that it will use “non-personally identifiable” demographic data pertaining to a user’s location, gender and age to target ads. Users will be able to opt-out of this targeting. No word in the blog about whether it will use other info such as text from chats, or even voice tags from audio/video conversations, to serve ads.

But although Skype appears to be taking a baby step here, it’s likely that it is just the first of many as Skype looks to roll out advertising on its Mac desktop client as well as in its mobile apps, and the company looks for more ways of generating revenues as the number of paying subscribers on its platform remain a small proportion of overall users: average monthly users currently stand at around 145 million, but only 8.8 million of them are paying users.

The news comes days after Skype filed an updated S-1 with the SEC, in which it noted several new details about its finances: it confirmed that it paid $121 million to acquire mobile video startup Qik in January, with an potential contingency payment of $29 million.

In 2010, the company says it had $860 million in net revenue, while its net loss was $7 million. Registered users now total 663 million, up from 474 million at the end of 2009.