AOL Shoots Self In Foot…Maybe

June 9, 2006

Topics: Search Marketing.

I mean, seriously. Delivering ads to paid subscribers? I mean, who would ever think of doing that? Other than, of course, most print journals, television, cable companies, film, and, frankly, most forms of private media.

Of course, there is one big difference to AOL’s move – they’re placing these ads in a service which is available for free from many other places. Indeed, these free services – Gmail, Yahoo! Mail, Hotmail, etc. are all providing their own advertising in these services – but would you rather pay for your advertising or receive it for free? In some ways, this is like subscribing to junkmail.

The fact is, as much as people are used to seeing advertisements in most areas of life, whether they’ve paid for the material or not, nobody likes to have them suddenly appear in places they haven’t been before. The first time I saw advertisements in a movie theatre I was very unhappy – but I got used to it.

Tongue-in-cheek heading aside, I think this was a bad move on AOL’s part – but, like they usually do, they’ll survive it. Their other recent bad decision, the fee program for email seems to be going fairly well – at least, there’s not a lot of negative publicity so far. But just think where AOL could be if they were to make a good decision for a change!

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