Skype, the popular Internet-based calling service, said Monday it would begin running ads.
"Today we announce something new — the launch of advertising in Skype, which will appear in the Home tab in Skype starting this week," Doug Bewsher, Skype's chief marketing officer, said in a company blog post. "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, which has about 145 million monthly users, has run test ads from Rdio over the last "month or two," and the first official advertisements inside of Skype will start running sometime this week, Bewsher said.
"As we roll out ads on a wider basis, we expect to continue to test and learn a lot more, and make any necessary adjustments along the way," he said. "We believe that advertising, when done in the right way, will help us continue to invest in developing great products."
The first ads were purchased by Groupon, Universal Pictures and Visa, Bewsher said.
"Ads will appear in the U.S., U.K. and Germany, and advertising sales for Skype are initially focused in those markets," Bewsher said. "You may only see ads occasionally. Our initial plan is to show an ad from one brand per day in each of the markets where advertising is being sold."
For now, ads will appear only on the Home tab in Skype's application that runs on the Microsoft Windows operating system. The company said it was experimenting with placing ads in other parts of the Skype application and with other operating systems such as Mac OS X and Android.
Skype is promising no "annoying pop-up ads or flashy banner ads in [the] middle of conversations," and it will use "non-personally identifiable demographic data," such as a caller's location, gender and age, to target ads to users who are more likely to find them to be relevant, Bewsher said.
But users can also opt out of allowing Skype to share such demographic data with its advertisers, which can be done in the Windows app's Privacy tab under Tools and then Options, he said.