For internet users of a certain age, the name America Online conjures up memories of ear-piercingly loud modems, discovering the fun of talking to complete strangers, and an endless supply of free trial software that came in the mail, magazines, and cereal boxes. However, besides a heavy dose of nostalgia, is there any reason for marketers to pay attention to AOL? Yes, believe it or not, AOL has had a resurgence of late. The company recently returned to profitability and has become a bigger player in internet advertising and content publishing than many realize. To prove that the brand has value, here are eight statistics about AOL that will surprise you.
According to comScore, 76.2 million Americans watched videos on AOL sites for an average of 60.4 minutes in December 2013.
The popularity of AOL video makes it a prime location for ad distribution. According to a different comScore report, AOL delivered 4 billion video ad impressions in the US in November 2013.
In the most recent search engine rankings available, July 2014, AOL there were 232 million explicit core searches were conducted on AOL sites in the US. While this means there is some life left in the platform for targeted search ads, it must be noted that AOL only accounts for 1.3 percent of US searches.
AOL Advertising makes up for the limited range of sites using AOL advertising by providing access to some of the biggest brands. In a study by W3Techs, it was noted that AOL has unique position where it’s ad network is used by fewer sites, but they are high-traffic sites, like TechCrunch.com, Endgadget.com, and sites using SquareSpace.
This is a little international but it’s definitely surprising. According to Statista, AOL Email ranked fifth in a list of leading websites ranked by the average time spent per person in the UK during March 2014. At an average of about 3 hours, AOL Email beat, Gmail, Netflix, Google, Skype and Tumbler.
A 2012 study on email deliverability by IBM also extolled the benefits of AOL Email for marketers. The study noted that 81.8 percent of emails sent to AOL addresses arrive in the recipient’s inbox.
In a ranking of the most popular multi-platform web properties in the United States in September 2013, based on number of unique visitors AOL ranked sixth. While it was behind the big brands like Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, Facebook and Amazon, AOL did beat out Apple, CBS, Wikipedia and a lot of other large brands. This goes back to the W3Tech point that though fewer sites are using AOL, those that do are some high-traffic sites.
And lest you think that the people visiting AOL sites don’t stay long, consider Statista’s report on the most visited websites in the United States in April 2014, ranked by user engagement (in hours and minutes). AOL ranked fifth, falling only to powerhouses like Facebook, YouTube, Yahoo, and Google.
The stats show that there is still plenty of life in AOL, even if it will never return to the popularity of its prime. As an advertising and content publishing platform, AOL has created a market for itself by being used by a few, but very popular sites. There is also the issue of legacy users. Since many users first got online with an AOL email or first starting chatting with AOL messenger services, there are still people keeping these communities going. While there isn’t enough here for marketers to start pulling money from Google AdWords campaigns to pour it into AOL ads, these statistics do make an argument for including AOL as part of a diversified campaign. Since the resource is underutilized, it makes AOL all the more valuable to marketers looking for another way to get content and ads to the public.
If nothing else, the rise, fall, and resurrection of AOL is a reminder that even things that aren’t what they once were can still bring value to the table if leveraged properly. For another example of this, read this article with 7 stats about Yahoo!.