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Skype Announces Ad Platform

March 8, 2011

Internet phone company Skype announced Monday that it plans to launch advertising for the first time as it looks to boost revenue ahead of going public later this year.

The company, which is still partially owned by online auction giant eBay Inc, also announced advertisers that will make the leap with them. They include Groupon Inc, Nokia Corp, Comcast Corp’s Universal Pictures and Visa Inc.

Skype, which channels voice, video and text over the Web, said the ads will only appear in Britain, Germany and the US for now.

Skype announced plans last August to raise up to $100 million by listing on the NASDAQ stock exchange.

“The Skype experience is our first priority, which is why we we’ve taken a lot of time working through and testing what kind of advertising would work best in the Skype environment,” Skype said in a blog post.

“We believe that advertising, when done in the right way, will help us continue to invest in developing great products,” the company said. Ads will appear in the home tab in Skype for Windows “and we may experiment with ads in other areas as well.”

“The ads won’t interrupt your Skype experience,” said the company in a blog post. “You won’t suddenly see annoying pop-up ads or flashy banner ads in middle of conversations.”

With 145 million users per month, the platform is an attractive market for brands to sell their products, Skype said. The platform will support large-format, rich interactive ads.

Ads will also feature a “Click & Call” button for users who act on impulse, The ads can also be shared on Facebook and Twitter.

Skype generated $406 million in revenue in the first half of 2010, according to its IPO registration statement. The company has 560 million registered users.

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