Skype ups brand partnerships to ‘broaden consumer experience’

Skype is looking to build closer relationships with brands to help it create a broader experience of its services as it positions itself as an entertainment platform.

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The service is looking at different ways to work with brands beyond just selling them ad inventory for its desktop and mobile offerings. Skype has already created branded content with ESPN and X Games that enabled sports fans to chat with athletes as it seeks to tap into its users’ interests.

Linda Summers, Skype’s director of product marketing, told Marketing Week: “We want to create experiences with our marketing that our users can share. We’re looking to put Skype into your passion, whether that be music or sports, and make it part of everyday conversation.”

Summers says that Skype is now investing more in marketing than ever before, making use of parent company Microsoft’s huge marketing muscle. But with more than 300 million active users, the firm is moving away from product marketing and into audience marketing.

Recent campaigns include “Cool My Couch”, which ran across digital and social and lets users share pictures of their old couch for the chance to win £1,000 to put towards a new one, plus a Samsung smart TV. It has also tied up with celebrities such as Lady Gaga, Jay Z and Simon Cowell to create exclusive branded content.

“Our traditional efforts gave someone an incentive that related to the product, like a Skype voucher. But now we want to really engage with our audience. That’s a real change of approach,” says Summers.

Skype has also been working with a range of TV manufacturers, from Samsung to LG to Panasonic, to integrate the voice calling service into new smart TV sets. Here, Summers says the firm still has some work to do to raise awareness and educate users.

“We want users to be aware they can use Skype across a range of different devices. People still think you have to sit down in front of a PC to chat, but you can use it on mobile phones, tablets and TVs.

“If we can get people using Skype across lots of different devices they will be more loyal to the brand. That’s basic marketing.”

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