The new placements are a logical way to boost Skype’s monetization. The company hopes connection hub ads will generate an at least 20 billion additional impressions per month for advertisers. Users spend 2 billion minutes on Skype daily, according to Microsoft.
Microsoft aims to sell the large majority of these ads direct, rather than through the Microsoft Ad Exchange, the company's programmatic marketplace built on AppNexus technology. “We really like to position Skype as a premium buy,” said Lovina McMurchy, general manager for Skype Advertising. “There is some [ad selling] that is done on a platform basis, but the main thrust is direct sales.”
In a first for Microsoft, Skype launched the pilot program in emerging markets. Test countries included Brazil, Russia and Turkey. The ad placements are now widely available. (Read the blog post.)
Ad products are typically launched in developed markets before reaching emerging ones. But the strong presence of non-American Skype users encouraged Microsoft to debut connection hub ads abroad before bringing them stateside.
“There’s a great deal of growth coming in emerging markets because of how many people are coming onto the Internet,” McMurchy said. “We looked at where we wanted to bring it to market, we looked at how fast some of the different markets can get behind new ad products, and we also looked at which markets had been our strongest messaging markets.”
The emphasis on messaging markets suggests Microsoft’s desire to maximize revenue with its new ad unit. Although users will see connection hub ads before starting a voice or video call, or after finishing one, instant messaging will give marketers prolonged exposure while users chat.
Corrected: An earlier version stated the new Skype ads would not be on offer through Microsoft Exchange. They will, but it's not the preferred sales channel.
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