AOL Launches AIM Video Ads

Users of America Online's Instant Messenger (AIM) may have noticed that the software's advertising units have taken a creative leap to a more memorable message concept. Specifically, 30-second live action video shorts called AIM Buddy List Super Video. While it tests the concept, AOL has integrated controls which give users means to silence videos in an attempt to strike a balance between promotions and the quality of the AIM user experience.

Whether the ads pull well or not, the manner and expression of video advertisements consistently grabs the attention and interest of consumers better than other styles of advertising. But there is risk in this approach, namely, when the strategy overpowers the creative idea and crowds out the ad's message.

For example, a reader contacted BetaNews declaring that the ads amounted to "video spam." With this type of response, the intended message is forgotten. Others may see a positive brand message.

An AOL spokesperson told BetaNews that AIM offers users controls that, "let them (use) elect to hear the related audio, shrink the video back to 120 X 90, or stop the video entirely." Furthermore, videos will not play when users are working in another application. Users see the videos once a day.

America Online will not comment on the number of advertisers that have opted into the program, but concedes that there are few and claims to be carefully controlling the rotation of the ads for the benefit of its customers.

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