Skype will fail when “conversation ads” launch and disrupt your calls

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Just saw this “Skype Rolls Out ‘Conversation Ads’ During Audio Calls

From Skype: “While on a 1:1 audio call, users will see content that could spark additional topics of conversation that are relevant to Skype users and highlight unique and local brand experiences. So, you should think of Conversation Ads as a way for Skype to generate fun interactivity between your circle of friends and family and the brands you care about.”

Is this just the dumbest thing ever?  I remember a company in Australia in the 1990s that offered free interstate calling if you allowed ads every 3 minutes.  Needless to say they failed.

Pulling apart the Skype quote:

“users will see content that could spark additional topics of conversation that are relevant to Skype users” – No No No! If I call someone on Skype, I don’t need to be told what to talk about.


“highlight unique and local brand experiences”- what?? Humans don’t speak like this to to other humans.  This is ad speak.

I am just shaking my head as I read this – if Microsoft go ahead with this, then people will leave Skype in droves and a viable ad-free competitor will emerge – Google anyone?

While what they are proposing will initially only show a small ad while on a 1:1 call – what’s next? Ads in the lower 1/3 of your Skype video call? Ads crawling along the bottom of your screen like news updates?

When you disrupt the utility of the communications channel with ads, the business model fails.  For the same reason I don’t want ads blocking the view of web pages on my mobile.

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Based in London, Practical Futurist and former Global Managing Partner at IBM, Andrew Grill is a popular and sought-after presenter and commentator on issues around digital disruption, workplace of the future and new technologies such as blockchain. Andrew is a multiple TEDx and International Keynote Speaker.