AOL Begins Print, Billboard Waves in Portal Campaign

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America Online this week breaks the print and billboard components of its ongoing multimedia campaign for the new aol.com portal that is free to use for anyone on the Internet.


One print ad shows a man drawing a stage curtain, with light streaming onto backstage. Other people crane to see through the parting. The headline says, "The New aol.com. Now open to everyone."


Copy in that ad explains: "Now one portal delivers it all. The best free entertainment on the Web, on demand. The faster, easier way to find what you want. The resources to discover where to go, what to do and how to get there. More ways to communicate with more people. Welcome to the new aol.com. Designed for broadband users. All on demand. Always free."


The ad, one of many, looks to attract new users to aol.com and encourage current AOL members to visit aol.com sites that collectively reached 112 million unique users in August, according to comScore Media Metrix. The ads also aim to resonate with consumers not online daily.


Aol.com print ads appear in parent Time Warner Inc.'s magazines including Entertainment Weekly, People, InStyle, Sports Illustrated and Real Simple. Ads run each week in the USA Today newspaper, too. And billboards in Los Angeles, New York and Washington are up.


In its latest iteration, aol.com has made free almost all of its programming previously limited to members of its Internet access service. The ad-supported offering includes free e-mail, new video and video search capabilities and access to several AOL features.


With this new format, aol.com competes with Yahoo, MSN, Google and other smaller players who center their online services on communication products like e-mail, chat and instant messenger as well as news and entertainment.


Aol.com's campaign has four broad themes. The entertainment part pushes AOL Music, Moviefone, AOL Radio, AOL Sports and AOL Television. As for finding news and information, the ads promote AOL Search, video news, video on-demand and video search.


The other two prongs focus on convenience/getting things done and communications. The ads tout AOL CityGuide, AOL Living, inStore and MapQuest as well as e-mail, the AIM messenger service and AOL Pictures.


A sweepstakes from ad agency Hill Holliday and Marden Kane will support the campaign. Called "Win What You Want," the sweepstakes/instant win game is themed around the aol.com launch, focusing on the immediacy of on-demand programming and easy access.


"The strategy is basically to use multimedia, magazine and newspaper ads and billboards to tell the aol.com story -- aol.com is now open to everyone," said Ruth Sarfaty, AOL vice president of corporate communications.


Atmosphere BBDO handles online creative, OMD buys online media and Carat Fusion is responsible for search engine optimization and marketing. The Martin Agency works with Initiative on offline advertising.


The online ads run through year-end on 100-plus sites including CNET, eBay, theStreet.com and iFilm. The print ads run in selected Time Warner publications with the same year-end deadline.


Meanwhile, AOL renewed its marketing and advertising ties with Infinity Broadcasting. The deal includes integrations across at least 30 Infinity radio stations, produced programming spots for Moviefone and AOL CityGuide and high-frequency ads in the top metropolitan areas through year-end.


Mickey Alam Khan covers Internet marketing campaigns and e-commerce, agency news as well as circulation for DM News and DMNews.com. To keep up with the latest developments in these areas, subscribe to our daily and weekly e-mail newsletters by visiting www.dmnews.com/newsletters


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