Before IPO, Advertising Comes to Skype

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skype_smallADOTAS – Not even our phone calls are safe from advertising! Well, actually they haven’t been for a while if you consider telemarketers or even LiveWire Mobile’s ringback tones, which enable advertising as you wait for the guy on the other end to pick up.

Besides that, Skype’s new display ads — which will only appear in consumer Windows versions — are simply banners on the home tab, nothing more intrusive than you’d find on… Well, just about every website. Oh yeah, the ads can support audio and video, as well as be dismissed by clicking the close button. Sounds… noninvasive.

At first, Skype will only serve an ad from one brand a day based on market — U.S., the U.K. and Germany are the launch markets. Meebo has been chosen to sell ad space in the U.S., while Ad2One and Ströer Interactive will handle the U.K. and Germany respectively.

In the press release the company repeats a few times that consumer experience is priority numero uno — users aren’t going to be interrupted mid-phone call with an offer to refinance their mortgage.

However, all of the non-PPI demographic data Skype has available in its system must be fantastic for targeting — we’re talking 145 million average users active monthly and 560 million registered in total. Not wanting to irk its users, Skype has been upfront about the ease of opting out of data-sharing.

Initially plugged advertisers are Groupon, Universal Pictures and Visa, while TechCrunch has learned that Nokia, Volkswagen and Disney have also made deals with Skype.

Skype has put down the legwork for an IPO, and an advertising revenue stream will likely look more impressive than the subscription service, which boasts only 8.1 million users.