America Online Inc. said it is no longer accepting third-party pop-up advertising or merchandise sales on its flagship AOL service, adding that the change will benefit both subscribers and advertisers.
"This new policy will contribute to our most important goal -- a better member experience," Jon Miller, chairman and chief executive of America Online, a unit of AOL Time Warner Inc., said Tuesday.
"AOL is an effective medium for advertisers, and we're working with our partners to continually improve the opportunities available to them by offering enhancements like standardized sizing and placement of advertising," Miller said.
"The most important thing we offer advertisers, though, is the chance to be part of a service that consumers love, and we've determined that pop-ups aren't the best way to do that," he added.
"By ending third-party pop-ups and merchandise sales we are giving our members what they want -- which in turn will make AOL an even better vehicle for our advertising partners," said Miller, a former USA Interactive executive who took the reins of the America Online division last summer.
In July, women's media and Internet company iVillage Inc. eliminated its pop-up advertisements based on a survey showing 92.5 percent of its audience found the ads to be the most frustrating feature of the Web. It also cited research showing pop-up ads can generate high brand awareness, but not always in a positive way.
At America Online, subscribers won't notice a significant change in pop-up ad frequency until AOL works through its current contractual obligations.
The company plans to continue using various methods, including pop-ups, to notify members about service features and occasionally make special offers from AOL Time Warner. The company says members will be able to find and change their marketing preferences more easily, and their opt-out requests will no longer expire on an annual basis.
, MEDIAWEEK.COM - October 15, 2002.
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