We think this may go down quite well with users...
America Online on Tuesday said it will discontinue serving pop-up advertisements in conjunction with the release of AOL 8.0, the latest upgrade of its flagship Internet service.
Executives of both AOL and its corporate parent AOL Time Warner introduced version 8.0 Tuesday afternoon in New York yesterday.
At the event, AOL CEO Jonathan Miller announced that the company will no longer sell third-party pop-up advertising on its service.
"AOL will not deliver any (third-party) pop-ups from AOL to our members," Miller said. "Pop-up ads aren't where we're going to go from here." The company said the new policy will improve "member experience."
In a press conference after the event, Miller said discontinuing pop-ups would cause a $30m shortfall in 2003 earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) for AOL.
He added that it is his intent to "make up the $30 million" shortfall through different forms of online advertising more embedded in AOL's various features. Miller also said AOL's advertising revenue next year is expected to increase from this year.
AOL 8.0 represents the struggling internet company's newest hope for reviving its sagging fortunes. As previously reported, the upgrade is not a makeover of its version 7.0, but it does include enhancements to many of its popular features. One theme in version 8.0 is heightened customisation, by which people can change the appearance of their AOL welcome screen or choose among hundreds of instant messaging icons, smileys and instant messaging backgrounds.
AOL 8.0 has added to its chat-room features, allowing people to search for topics while alerting them when other members with similar interests sign on. Other enhancements include new sorting features in the mail system, the ability for parents to view printouts of their children's online usage and more high-bandwidth content for broadband users.
The release comes a little more than a week before Microsoft, a key online rival to AOL, is scheduled to launch the latest version of MSN, its Internet service. Microsoft on Monday unveiled a $300m ad campaign to promote MSN 8.
Jim Hu writes for News.com