AOL kills the pop-up?
October 15, 2002 2:40 PM   Subscribe

AOL kills the pop-up? "By ending third-party pop-ups and merchandise sales we are giving our members what they want," says Chief Executive Jon Miller. Clever strategy. Since there's now hardly any new users to attract to their service, they're trying to appeal to slightly more experienced net users. Are you annoyed by pop-ups? Would you sign up to AOL?
posted by tapeguy (48 comments total)
 
Hahaha... too little too late. They still cost twice as much as most other dial-ups. I can see the "special offers from parent company AOL Time Warner Inc" part being pretty annoying.

I'd still never use AOL.
posted by password at 2:46 PM on October 15, 2002


3rd party pop-ups, sure.

but what about contracts with those 3rd party companies making AOL part of the deal?

funny.. seems exactly what they'd want too.
posted by mrplab at 2:46 PM on October 15, 2002


Waaait wait wait. AOL IS a pop-up. This must be a typo...
posted by zekinskia at 2:46 PM on October 15, 2002


So they are essentially making their service more like normal dialup services? Okay!
posted by daveadams at 2:48 PM on October 15, 2002


And in the ultimate irony, a pop-up ad attempted to appear as soon as I clicked on the sfgate link. Hell no, I would never go to AOHell for anything and I use popup killer to deal with those nasty little ads. No one who thinks uses the aggravating aggregator, AOL, instead of a nice local ISP that does it all for you without getting in the way.
posted by Lynsey at 2:49 PM on October 15, 2002


This seems silly to me. AOL will never win over the techie crowd and appeals to them, as this seems to be, are wasted money. If the lost ad revenue forces AOL to continue its policy of hiking the rate by $2 every other year, most of their users will probably not appreciate the move.
posted by gsteff at 2:51 PM on October 15, 2002


My bet is that they were spending more money developing the pop-ups than actually selling the products. It makes more sense than the "we listened to what the customer wanted" crap! AOL sucks.
posted by bmxGirl at 2:51 PM on October 15, 2002


"Would you sign up to AOL?"

Not even if they threw in a pony.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 2:56 PM on October 15, 2002


"Would you sign up to AOL?"

Nor for pancakes.
posted by dash_slot- at 3:02 PM on October 15, 2002


AOL's client base is IM-ing teenyboppers and people who get the service free with their computer and don't learn enough to switch. I had a woman come into my store looking for a photo scanner. I showed her a few models that I liked and she pointed at another one,

"What about that one?" she said "It's been reccommended."

"By who?"

"AOL"

"Those are ads, ma'am."

"Oh."

Keep that woman away from QVC. That's the AOL user base, by and large.
posted by jonmc at 3:05 PM on October 15, 2002


"Would you sign up to AOL?"

Only if it vibrated.
posted by gsteff at 3:05 PM on October 15, 2002


Someone's going to say it. Might as well be me...

Opera gives one the option to block pop-ups. It's a couple keystrokes to switch back and forth. It's free, too, if you tolerate their permanent banner ad (I find it very ignorable.) and cheap if you don't.
posted by brantstrand at 3:08 PM on October 15, 2002


"Would you sign up to AOL?"

Not even if they threw in a pony.


Now, let's not be rash!
posted by themadjuggler at 3:10 PM on October 15, 2002


AOL's client base is IM-ing teenyboppers and people who get the service free with their computer and don't learn enough to switch.

And, eerily enough, a giant homosexual cruising market, don't forget. Weird mixed-up world of AOL.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 3:13 PM on October 15, 2002


Unfortunately, I think AOL is just eliminating popups within their proprietary service, *not* popups in the integrated web browser. So I don't think most people who use AOL for web browsing will notice a difference. This is in contrast to Earthlink's recent announcement that they're bundling ad-blocking software with their service, which was much bigger news in my opinion.
posted by dougb at 3:16 PM on October 15, 2002


I haven't seen a pop-up ad in months. Mozilla is great.
posted by Mars Saxman at 3:17 PM on October 15, 2002


when they stop the spam then i'll consider paying $22 a month for dial up.

oh thats right, no i won't.
posted by tsarfan at 3:25 PM on October 15, 2002


I can't remember where i read it (maybe here?), but it was that something like 15-20% of AOL subscribers get it for free-either by using the free 1000 hours or threatening to cancel and then getting a few free months to "change their mind"....
posted by amberglow at 3:27 PM on October 15, 2002


Johnmc- I see you met my mom.
When I visit for the holidays and logon to check my email,
I can't believe the garbage that AOL users wade through on the way to their destination. It's obvious that they want to kill pop-ups because they distract from the pipeline of AOL-TW approved crap.
posted by 2sheets at 3:27 PM on October 15, 2002


Would you sign up to AOL?

What's the keyword?
posted by pedantic at 3:28 PM on October 15, 2002


I don't care if AOL blocked every ad on the web, I'd wither and die without DSL.
posted by hammurderer at 3:50 PM on October 15, 2002


Would you sign up to AOL?

Maybe if they paid me $23.90 a month. And that's a big maybe.
posted by dopamine at 3:51 PM on October 15, 2002


Not for all the hotgrits, Natalie Portman, or a Beowulf cluster of... oh, wait, wrong website.
Anyways, I use AdShield and haven't seen ads or pop-ups in a long time. And speaking of things, does anyone else find it ironic that AOL Europe means "America Online Europe"? Manifest Destiny or what? Why not EOL?
posted by blue_beetle at 3:53 PM on October 15, 2002


I use AOL cos dad won't buy broadband ;(
posted by Orange Goblin at 4:16 PM on October 15, 2002


Do pop-up ads annoy me? Yes. Would I sign up for AOL (yes, they are here too)? I would rather chew my mouse hand off and swallow it whole.
posted by dg at 4:17 PM on October 15, 2002


Umm, that's my mouse using hand, of course, not the hand of my mouse.
posted by dg at 4:19 PM on October 15, 2002


I hardly feel AOL is seeking to expand into the techie market.

Most accounts have AOL 8 as being the "Members' Release", one that is far more friendly to existing AOL users and emphasizes customization and options versus previous concentration on ease of use and short learning curve.
posted by dhartung at 4:27 PM on October 15, 2002


the real question is, once signed up for AOL, how does one get UNSIGNED up? they NEVER stop charging your card, you have to order the CC to cease paying them. why isn't case cooling his heels in jail?
posted by quonsar at 4:36 PM on October 15, 2002


Opera gives one the option to block pop-ups. It's a couple keystrokes to switch back and forth. It's free, too, if you tolerate their permanent banner ad (I find it very ignorable.) and cheap if you don't.

So does Mozilla. In fact, with the handy-dandy Preferences toolbar add-on, you can turn them on and off at will with a single mouseclick.
posted by moonbiter at 5:13 PM on October 15, 2002


>Would you sign up to AOL?

I can't see myself paying ~$22 a month for dial-up service. For 20 dollars more a month I can get a T1 speed cable modem (down that is, up is another story) which leaves the phone free for voice calls. AOL + a second phone line is more than what decent DSL or Cable will cost you.

AOL does have some benefits for laptop owners who travel. Its nice to be able to get local numbers wherever you are, but the home market is really taking a beating with dial-up service if they go with the big nationwide ISPs. They're really just susidizing the laptop people. A local ISP usually wants 3/4 or if you're luckly half what AOL/Earthlink/MSN charges.
posted by skallas at 6:56 PM on October 15, 2002


The last time I used AOL was close to a decade ago. It was version 1.5 I think, and only offered a pitiful 9 hours at $19 per month, and then $2.95 per addtional hour. I've recently launched 6 or 7.0 on a machine that I was working on, just to get printer drivers. From the very second I connected, I am presented with a promotional offer. The only option is to decline the offer, as it was a bit more persistant than a normal browser pop-up.

I think that this is the type of pop-up that the article is referring to, as it really made me feel like I could get the same kind of treatment from one of the free ISPs out there such as NetZero (which was still free at the time). Hell, they make all of their money off of advertising. It was the same type of treatment I also remember from the older versions that I paid for, which was basically a bloated service based off of modal VB forms. Then on one fateful day, when HTML came about, I discovered the wonderful world of ISPs.
posted by samsara at 7:08 PM on October 15, 2002


I get their free trial CD mailed to me every two months or so. While I have no idea how my address made it to their mailing list, I now have a whole buncha coasters :).

Yet another funny thing is that in Canada, AOL calls themselves AOL Canada. America Online Canada. Go figure.

And for the record, AOL sucks donkeys.
posted by freakystyley at 7:31 PM on October 15, 2002


The funny thing is how many AOL haters maintain an (admittedly free) IM account because AOL is where their friends are, and so actually have AOL software (or, at least, open-source software that talks to AOL servers) running on their computer all day long.

It's like driving to the WTO protests in a car made affordable by south-of-the-border NAFTA labor.
posted by strike3 at 8:26 PM on October 15, 2002


Would I use AOL?

No, because they don't offer a local access number for my area.
I don't even know what AOL looks like.
posted by bradth27 at 8:33 PM on October 15, 2002


I subscribe to AOL, and plan to continue to. The price, once you consider that it's a business expense; and once you consider that I can listen and respond to e-mails over the phone, and, at least for the moment, make free 2 minute long distance phone calls, and access free business directory assistance, IS WORTH IT. I run IE for mac on top of it.


Also, I still don't get how AOL dialup is "almost" the same price as DSL. DSL=about 40 bucks more than dialup. You don't need a second phone line (I've heard DSL degrades voice quality, but anyway...), but I don't need one: I pay $1.50/month to have my calls fowarded on busy to my cell phone.
posted by ParisParamus at 8:37 PM on October 15, 2002


I'm not tech savvy, or too smart for that matter, but I wouldn't use AOL. I did for a brief time in '93, and again in '96 (but I swear, only for porn and, as RJ said, cruising).

using AOL is like living in a daycare center, surrounded by screaming brats, only there are no cool toys to play with and no enforced nap times. plenty of cookies though (har de har har).

I despise AOL for many reasons, including the one they were so proud of: it's ease of use. you don't have to learn anything to use it, not even how to type. my grandparents are able to use it, but they still can't figure out how to start up Word. AOl is responsible for the decline of western civilization, polyester and the extinction of dragons and manticores.
posted by tolkhan at 8:49 PM on October 15, 2002


strike3: The funny thing is how many AOL haters maintain an (admittedly free) IM account because AOL is where their friends are, and so actually have AOL software

Not really. I think its fair to differentiate between AOL the ad-riddled ISP and AOL the provider of free IM software. The two are mutually exclusive when forming an opinion on one or the other. If AIM is good doesn't mean AOL is good. Not to mention there really is no AOL, its AOL/Time Warner. According to your logic I would have to boycott a big chunk of media in order to not be a hypocrite. (I use trillian anyway, so I'm everyone's bitch).

>Also, I still don't get how AOL dialup is "almost" the same price as DSL.

You're not supposed to. I wrote that its a 20 dollar premium, at least in many parts of the US. All this bandwidth for only 20 dollars more seems like a bargain to me. If your computer isn't mobile you can do better with the bandwidth per penny equation by going the local ISP route.
posted by skallas at 8:52 PM on October 15, 2002


Also, since I don't use their browser, and have their "welcome screen" permanently hidden off the lower left corner of the screen, I never see their ads, and never use their service. Plus I gave mom a screen name, which is cheaper than her having a separate account.

My point is: I think most of you just enjoy disparaging AOL because its cathartic. They offer enough discounts to make the real price of their service competitive, and none of AOL's supposed pains cannot be deactivated or attenuated.
posted by ParisParamus at 8:57 PM on October 15, 2002


True, Skallas. So I guess my real point is that I have little or no use for broadband. Mefi is fine with dialup. Newspaper sites load up fast enough. I can download the occassional quicktime video while doing something else or sleeping. I think I would pay no more than an extra $10 for DSL over dialup..
posted by ParisParamus at 9:02 PM on October 15, 2002


I found I did not use 95% of AOL content. I ditched AOL 6.0 when it was time to move up to DSL speeds. AOL did not offer DSL or cable connection then (2 yrs ago). I had to uninstall AOL to get the DSL connection to work. It did not go easy. It crashed my machine during the uninstall, then it would not reboot. After managing to reinstall Windows, things worked fine. I will not let AOL trash one of my PCs again.
posted by hockeyman at 9:26 PM on October 15, 2002


skallas: I didn't mean that there's anything wrong with being an AOL hypocrite, solong as you realize that you are and jump ship when something better comes along. It's when people deny, deny, deny that the trouble begins. I agree that hatred of AOL and use of its software can co-exist; I am living proof (if iChat counts). Same goes for Microsoft.
posted by strike3 at 9:30 PM on October 15, 2002


Well, I travel, a lot. So I maintain my aol account as well as a local isp for dsl. They do have local numbers pretty much everywhere, and a resonable 800-line charge if they don't.

Also, a lot of people like the fact that aol gives you 7 email addresses. ISPs often charge you more per mail address. For a family, not a bad deal, really.

I'm waiting for some gearhead to shockingly wonder why you can't just slap red hat on your machine and set up your own mail server and have unlimited accounts. Uh.....we all's not like that.
posted by umberto at 9:35 PM on October 15, 2002


My isp gives us 5 email addresses. With my yahoo account, I can access my local email anywhere there is an internet computer. And most of you people must live in urban areas where there are multitudinous AOL dial up choices - not where I live, where it's a long distance call just to connect to AOL, as bradth said. What quonsar said reminded me - we tried it for about 3 months in 1996 and it took us 3 more months to get them to stop direct withdrawal from our bank account! No, I'll say it again. AOL sucks. Big time. Oddly enough, half of my email correspondents use it and like it and I can't convince them otherwise. So it's there for those who don't wish to change or learn more about how the internet really works.
posted by Lynsey at 10:06 PM on October 15, 2002


From what I can tell, there is nothing in AOL that there isn't on the regular 'net. Everything is just packaged in a weird AOL way, which makes it seem pointless. I do have an AOL account though - it's my mom's account, and I have a screen name on it which I never use. For my mom, it's pretty good because she doesn't have to deal with email software, etc. which you normally have to configure with ISPs, so whatever.

I do use AIM though - almost everyone I know does (although I am 18). AIM is a pretty awesome tool for keeping in touch with people as well as everyday communication. I've found that I keep up with people who use AIM a lot more than ones who just give me their email, since you don't have to sit down and really type something to talk to them.
posted by swank6 at 11:12 PM on October 15, 2002


Crazy Browser also kills popups, and since it uses the IE rendering engine you don't run into many chopped up pages.
posted by Yelling At Nothing at 11:22 PM on October 15, 2002


does anyone else find it ironic that AOL Europe means "America Online Europe"? Manifest Destiny or what? Why not EOL?

My other half works for Freeserve, which is the top ISP in the UK, and according to their market research a large majority of people in the UK think AOL is a British company. There's the power of branding for you.

However, AOL only had 17% market share in the UK in 2001 despite all those free disks and TV campaigns (I don't have more recent figures), mainly because they didn't understand well enough that the same business model and marketing doesn't work the same across all territories.
posted by Summer at 2:38 AM on October 16, 2002


What if AIM stops being free?





it's pretty good because she doesn't have to deal with email software, etc. which you normally have to configure with ISPs, so whatever.

Legitimate criticism of AOL has to acknowledge that the above applies to 85% of the population, and that it always will, and that there's nothing wrong with that; everything else is just ego enrichment.
posted by ParisParamus at 4:34 AM on October 16, 2002


I get their free trial CD mailed to me every two months or so. While I have no idea how my address made it to their mailing list, I now have a whole buncha coasters :).

You could also make delightful Christmas tree ornaments (hell, even a whole tree [beware the background music]) out of those CDs.
posted by fredosan at 10:41 AM on October 16, 2002


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