Mail.ru’s DST may have spent $187.5 million taking ICQ off AOL’s hands, but it’s in no rush to make a direct return on the veteran IM service.
The group has announced that it is pulling advertising out of ICQ for the first time since it was added in 1999.
But the removal will happen only at home in Russia, where Mail.ru wants to use ICQ alongside its own Mail.ru Agent IM app, which are now interoperable, to link people across its network of domestic services.
“The role of advertising in ICQ has always been secondary,” says Mail.ru’s IM group head Igor Ermakov (via release).
“The role of messaging in the overall strategy of the company is not to bring momentary profit, but to serve as a tool for communicating and providing convenient access to other Mail.Ru Group projects. The presence of advertising has been one of the major drawbacks in the eyes of service users.”
ICQ first implemented banners in 1999. The last ad-free version it shipped was in 2002. Mail.ru investment group DST acquired ICQ from AOL (NYSE: AOL) in 2010 and began removing first banner ads in May 2011.
Mail.ru claims 15.7 million Russian and 27 million global ICQ users, alongside 22.9 million monthly Mail.ru Agent users. ICQ use has fallen from 33.5 million global users in December 2010.
English ad opportunities are still being invited by ICQ for banners, videos, contact list ads, message windows and more.
Meanwhile in Russia…
- Yandex’s Yandex.Factory startup investor is putting a small amount in to the online booking service TimeBooker (via Quintura blog).
- The Afisha-Rambler portal JV is investing in TimePad, said to be a “Russian EventBrite” (via Quintura).
- Online dating service Teamo.ru is taking more than $2 million from Japanese investors UMJ (via Quintura).