AOL Learns That You Can't Just Go 'Free, With Ads.' You Need To Give People Reasons To Visit

from the business-model-101 dept

It's been a little over a year since AOL made the big decision to go free. It was about the only thing the company could do at the time. It's subscriptions were dropping rapidly. It held little to differentiate itself from the many free services out there. It had failed to build a real broadband strategy for years. The problem, though, was that the decision to go free was made way too late and, most importantly, without much additional strategy behind it. It seemed like the strategy was basically just "if we go free, we'll sell ads." They left out the important middle step though: the company needed to actually give people a reason to visit and give advertisers a reason to buy ads. Without that step, it really isn't surprising that the company is realizing its "free, with ads" strategy isn't working as well as planned. On the same day that AOL officially bought another online ad company, it was revealed that the growth in ad revenue has been slowing, and it lost a big advertising partner. This is a good reminder, though, for other companies out there who are trying to figure out how to embrace "free" as a part of their business model. You can't really neglect the rest of your business model.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  

    AOL blew it big time

    People still use AOL? How did AOL get in this position to begin with? What were they doing when all the Free ways to access the Internet were popping up all around them?

    When you have an astronomical amount of subscribers and you just sit by and let your business stagnate you get what you deserve.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 7th, 2007 @ 9:22pm

    Do you think all those free AOL cds in the mail finally caught up with them?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 7th, 2007 @ 10:00pm

    Re:

    Do you think all those free AOL cds in the mail finally caught up with them?

    I sure hope so.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    Why Me, Nov 8th, 2007 @ 12:16am

    I thought AOL died some years back. I'm surprised to hear they are still around :(

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    AOL and Vista, Nov 8th, 2007 @ 12:28am

    Silly me, I put AOL chat on Vista. No more sound. Found a fix after many wasted hours. I found a comand line fix on google. If you have AOL chat and loose your itunes, go to Google.

    AOL gotohell.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    jhozae, Nov 8th, 2007 @ 3:29am

    It's the memory of AOL that keeps people away

    I remember how AOL software would try to take over your computer, and make it difficult to use competing software. I remember how a non-profit I volunteered for paid 2 yrs for an account no longer used because we couldn't cancel it. And if you wanted sites outside AOL, you had to open Netscape or Internet Explorer. But I remember that if you complained about things in an AOL acceptable manner, they would give you 3 or 4 months free. Don't think I paid for the last year I had them. Still wasn't worth the hassle though.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    james, Nov 8th, 2007 @ 4:55am

    corporate plan from AOL exec meeting

    Step 1: Steal underwear.
    Step 2: ..... (Confused looks) ..
    Step 3: Profit!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    Lewis Salem, Nov 8th, 2007 @ 6:56am

    AOHell.

    I think I speak for everybody here when I say that when AOL implodes, no tears will be shed.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    Haha, Nov 8th, 2007 @ 10:59am

    I havent liked AOL since my first month on the int

    @7 exactly what i was thinking

    Step 1: Give people no reason to use your free service.
    Step 2:......
    Step 3: Profit

    Yup looks like AOL is now run by underwear gnomes.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 8th, 2007 @ 12:04pm

    Well, If you cant get comments posted, and are not seeing new comments but every 12 hours or so, I guess i will move on from TD.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This