AOL Needs Ads

I remember the glory days of the mid 90’s, when America Online was my on-ramp to the information superhighway. I paid them every month, lots of people did. Floppy disks and dial-up modems were everywhere.
I tell ya, I don’t even think about AOL anymore. This CNET news article suggests that AOL is having trouble staying ad-supported.

Just over a year ago, AOL unveiled a radical plan to remake itself into a business built on advertising from one driven by Internet access subscriptions.
The new plan certainly seemed to make sense. With the advertising business growing rapidly across the Web, AOL appeared to be in an ideal place to capitalize on that trend. It remains, after all, one of the most popular online destinations, with more than 90 million people visiting its sites in a month.
But a precipitous slowdown in advertising growth has raised new questions about AOL’s transformation plans. AOL executives say the slowdown is probably temporary, but Richard D. Parsons, chief executive of Time Warner, which owns 95 percent of AOL, said this month that he no longer expected AOL’s ad growth to match or exceed the overall growth rate of online advertising. The company’s challenges highlight one of the quirks of today’s Internet market. As advertising is moving from offline media to the Internet at a rapid clip, portals, which command some of the biggest audiences online, should be among the top beneficiaries. Instead, the travails of the mass market portals like AOL, as well as Yahoo and Microsoft, indicate a decline in power.

Who still visits on a regular basis? Is it mostly light users of the web?



About Dan Goldgeier

Dan Goldgeier is a Seattle-based freelance copywriter with experience at advertising agencies across the U.S. He is a graduate of the Creative Circus ad school, and currently teaches at Seattle's School of Visual Concepts. Dan is also a columnist for and the author of View From The Cheap Seats and Killer Executions and Scrubbed Decks.