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In-call ads coming to Skype

Video chat service Skype is based on conversation, so it's no surprise that the company announced today the launch of Conversation Ads, which will serve up advertisements during audio calls between non-paying customers.

The ads will appear within the Skype-to-Skype calling window during voice calls between Windows users who do not have Skype Credit or subscriptions, essentially sticking freeloaders with unavoidable ads. Skype said that call quality will remain the same for all users.

While on a 1:1 audio call, people will see ads (example below) that Skype said will spark additional conversations about brands users care about. Think of the new ad campaign as a way for Skype to generate "fun interactivity" between friends and family, Sandhya Venkatachalam, vice president of Skype Advertising and Monetization, wrote on the company's blog.

Conversation Ads will serve as an opportunity "for marketers to reach our hundreds of millions of connected users in a place where they can have meaningful conversations about brands in a highly engaging environment," Venkatachalam wrote.

The silent, non-expanding advertisements are available for companies to purchase in 55 markets where Skype is available.

"The Skype experience is our top priority," Venkatachalam said, "which is why we've taken our time testing what kind of advertising works best in the Skype environment."

The blog hinted at future commercial ventures, though no details were offered up, nor were there any discussions about ads for Mac.

Skype first started rolling out ads in March 2011 via the Home tabs within the UK, US, and German versions of Skype with ads from Groupon, Universal Pictures, and Visa, among others.