Chat service Meebo is trialling a new form of web advertising in which its instant messaging feature holds permanent adverts in the interface background.
Meebo chief executive Seth Sternberg said in a blog post that the ads are one way that the firm is exploring new revenue streams in order to keep the chat service free.
"Instead of just throwing standard banner ads into Meebo, we wanted to integrate ads as a feature, hopefully so well that they could be fun," he said.
The move follows the deployment of new advertising strategies by major web firms such as Yahoo and Google.
Yahoo recently introduced a Rich Ads In Search offering that allows advertisers to put images, video and location information into adverts hosted in Yahoo search results.
The company also launched an initiative allowing marketers to target users based on search terms, and to enable adverts to be customised according to the web user's age and gender.
Google, meanwhile, is trialling a new form of advertising which introduces expandable adverts into its search results pages.
Sternberg asked for feedback on the new form of advertisements. "Did we strike a good balance between not disturbing your use of Meebo, while acknowledging the need to run ads? Is the ad too distracting? What tweaks would you do to make it better? Let us know," he wrote.
Users can still revert to the old chat format without the advert in the background by clicking on the 'Change back to blue' link.
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