Twitter And Skype Ads Remind Us How Good Google And Facebook Have it

Skype adsThe new Skype ad window.

Photo: Skype

In a bid to earn more money from their armies of users, Twitter and Skype are introducing new in-your-face ad formats.It’s a good reminder that not all ads are created equal — and that Google and Facebook have done a great job monetizing users without driving them away.

Over the weekend, Twitter introduced a new bar at the top of its iPad and iPhone app called the Quick Bar, which displays trending topics — including promoted trends, which advertisers pay for. The bar got a lot of criticism because it appears over the top tweet in users’ streams, and refreshes itself every time a new tweet appears. Jon Gruber of Apple blog Daring Fireball coined a new hashtag to describe it: #dickbar. (It’s not an expletive, but refers to Dick Costolo, the Twitter CEO who is tasked with making the company money.)

Twitter is supposedly releasing an update that will make the bar less obtrusive. But Costolo suggested in a tweet that the company is not going to get rid of it or let users turn it off as some users have hoped.

Then today, Skype announced it would be putting big graphic ads on top of the Home tab in the Skype client for Windows.

Both companies are facing pressure from investors to make money. Twitter was recently valued at nearly $8 billion and is likely to IPO in the next year or so, but the company is estimated to have annual revenue of no more than $100 million. Skype, in updated IPO papers filed this morning, revealed that it lost $6.9 million on revenue of $890 million last year.

The ads are a good reminder that Google and Facebook are the exceptions when it comes to ad-funded consumer services: they made sure ads were relevant and unobtrusive. Other companies like MySpace took the opposite approach and ended up driving users away.

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