AIM Pages to rival MySpace
AOL's new service is a social networking-based extention of AIM ... and it will be just as difficult to monetize. As noted earlier, for MySpace making friends was easy. Big profit is tougher.
Sure, there's a free phone line for incoming calls, but aren't Skype and others already dominating that business? This is a classic AOL late-to-the-game move, and like many other efforts, I just don't think it stands much of a chance.
I also wonder about the brand. Is AOL still young enough to court a MySpace demographic? Is their messenger powerful enough to drive adoption of AIM Pages? Plus, as Fred points out, AOL is shifting from a subscriber based business to an advertising based business. While that might be great for ad revenue in the short run as subscription revenue continues to decline, a shrinking subscriber base certainly won't help them introduce new products and services.
Kerry Parkins, director, key audiences product marketing, calls it "a very natural extension for AIM's existing social network. Instead of people joining a created community a la Classic AOL, they have their own with the buddy list they already use at the core."
Parkins' best quote, however is this one:
Advertisers themselves are trying to get a handle on how to monetize in this space. In general, it’s not a great advertising play.
Unlike Screenwerk, I'm not convinced. In the long run, Yahoo! stands to gain the most from the failure. Given that over 40% of those leaving AOL pick up Yahoo!, they stand the most to gain. Compared to MySpace, they have a more complete package to offer AOL "defectors," and unlike MySpace, Yahoo! seems to know how to make some cash from what they are doing.
Try as it might, AOL is a lame duck. They have been for years. AIM is still a closed-loop network, and they are very late to the game in terms of switching from a subsciption model to an advertising-based business.
AOL wants to be the 24/7 home base for as many users as possible hence the AIM Page, a social networking site/home page/home base that stays active even when the buddy list is offline. Kerry Parkins, director, key audiences product marketing, calls it “a very natural extension” for AIM”s existing social network. Instead of people joining a created community a la Classic AOL, they have their own with the buddy list they already use at the core.
AOL will be successful in attracting advertisers to this new program. They have an active salesforce that already has relationships with the biggest online advertisers in the world. The question is will they be able to interest teens. On the upside, many teens already use AIM. On the downside, AOL isn't a cool brand to them.
A few words and also posted about it a while back when it was in private beta.
InterMedia: More Details Emerge on AOL's AIM Pages
Alec Saunders .LOG: First AIM Pages Screenshots
SearchViews: Take AIM: First Look at AIM Pages Social Network
Tuesday, May 09, 2006