Skype is looking to bolster its financial standing ahead of an expected initial public offering. To that end, the company will start to roll out ads this week for its Windows client.
The first batches of ads will include paid messages from Visa, Groupon and Universal Pictures and will initially only appear in the U.S., Germany and the United Kingdom. The VoIP provider said that it plans to limit the number of ads users will be exposed to by only displaying an ad from a single brand per day.
While Skype plans to make the ads targeted by gathering “non-personally identifiable” data (gender, location, age, etc.) , it will also let users opt out to prevent the information from being shared with advertisers. The ads may contain video and audio. Users will also be able to close out of the ads if they don’t like what they’re seeing.
Skype said that the ads “won’t interrupt your Skype experience. You won’t suddenly see annoying pop-up ads or flashy banner ads in middle of conversations.”
Skype began filing IPO paperwork last summer and may complete the process as early as the first half of this year. The Wall Street Journal says that a Skype IPO may be the biggest in the tech world since 2004, when Google’s public offering brought in $1.67 billion.
Skype recorded around 145 million monthly users at the end of 2010. But of those, only some 8.8 million were reported as paying members. The company reportedly generated $860 million in revenue in 2010 for a net loss of $7 million.
Last week, Skype and Citrix Systems announced a partnership to bring business-friendly conferencing capabilities to Skype through Citrix’s GoToMeeting service.