Monday, November 21, 2005

Angry AOL bloggers now push boycotts

BusinessWeek Bloggspotting blogged The anger over banner ads on AOL Journals is reaching a fever pitch. Bloggers are organizing boycotts of advertisers, presumably including Bank of America, whose ad appears on the Journals I've seen today

Here is an example of one of their posts: To ALL Interested Parties!

This is the letter being sent to all the advertisers, all the Execs, Every single Possible person who will listen!

CAN YOU TELL THAT WE MEAN BUSINESS?????

To whom it may concern,

A significant number of AOL paying-customers were recently ambushed by America On Line with advertising from your organization on OUR paid journal/blog sites.

Paid journal/blog sites? Does AoL charge you extra for a journal/blog site, or is it something they have added as an additional freebie to their customers? The monthly fee you are paying is for internet connectivity. I will agree you are paying a lot more than you should ($23.90 a month); that is why Netscape (owned by AoL) can afford to provide their web accellerator for free for $9.95 a month, when they are competing against independent NetZero, since AoL customers are paying so much excess for their internet access they are a cash cow that subsidizes Netscape's much lower rate.
AOL chose to break our trust by invading our paid-for sites and there is a significant gathering of journalers, soon to be joined by nationally syndicated reporting, who are aggressively fighting this invasion of our AOL JOURNAL sites.

As one of the agencies whose advertisements appear on these Journals, we are calling for a boycott of your organizations and affiliates until the unwanted advertising on our AOL JOURNALS is permanently removed.

Other blogging sites PAY the host for the advertising.
AoL is the host for your blog, and I suspect that Bank of America, Free Credit Report, Classmates.com, Elidel, and Kodak/Nascar, as well as any other advertiser whose ads are appearing in your blog, are paying AoL for running those ads. There are a number of blog providers that charge you a monthly fee to host your blog, and then you are free to either accept advertising, for which you will be paid, or to not accept advertising, in which case your blogs will have no ads. But when you get your blog for free, the company providing it may well decide to show ads on it. The same is true for free websites.
AOL doesn't even give us the courtesy of warning us that advertising will appear on our blogs, nor do they offer any semblance of an option regarding these highly intrusive ads.

We are calling on each and every one of your organizations to protect your integrity, despite the lack of AOL's own integrity, and immediately remove your advertising from AOL JOURNALS.

Sincerely,
Armand T
Tacoma, WA


AoL Users are usually regarded as clueless, and there is nothing about this that would change that notion. They should realize that TANSTAAFL still applies: There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch

11 comments:

Anna said...

what a pleasant person you are. that explains why there are zero commenters on a majority of your entries.

Armand said...

Your premise that we pay AOL for connectivity-along is illogical.

Since the majority of your position stems from an illogical premise, your position carries no water.

It's actually that simple, Don. If it weren't, everyone would be permitted to use the AOL software for free.

It might work to your advantage to actually develop your own clue in the argument before you go about "regarding" other people as clueless.

Armand said...

*alone

The Love Train said...

It's not the about the technicality. We're clued that we don't pay 'extra' for our journals. -- Nor, should we have to. We pay for virtual Ferrari Enzos, and connect with Mack trucks, because we love the community that we've established.

It's about the principal of customer satisfaction (?), and caring about a significant number of loud, well voiced journalist/subscribers who've done their part to carry AOL like a papoose-in-silk on the back of their weekly paychecks, since it began. -- That is, until AOL's daddy-huckster, Jonathan Miller, rolled-over us from behind and flattened our 'literary hearts' even more.

You -- "suspect that Bank of America, Free Credit Report, Classmates.com, Elidel, and Kodak/Nascar, as well as any other advertiser whose ads are appearing in your blog, are paying AoL for running those ads." -- ?

... If you sit back and only "suspect" such things, you should change the name of this rag to, 'Cher Horowitz'.

Make yourself useful, and state something that everyone's not already aware of.

~Brian ~ AKA, 'The Love Train'

jennifer said...

Well, I just want to clarify one point from my own perspective, lest I be labeled "clueless."

I do not pay AOL for connectivity. I pay my cable company for that. I do, however, pay AOL subscription fees because, and only because, once AOL opened up its blog or journals feature to free AIM usage, we paid members were assured that our fees would maintain an ad-free platform, while the non-paid ones would contain advertisements.

That changed in one fell swoop without announcement, without warning.

And in my opinion, and only mine as I do not speak for my colleagues and friends, I find it reprehensible to renege on a promise, implied or expressed, without any semblance of warning.

And that is my objection to AOL's business ethics.

Don Singleton said...

AoL has for many years charged its subscribers way more than others were paying for the same service. This is still true today, where they charge dial up customers $23.95 for something that not just Netscape (a part of AoL) and NetZero, but also most other dialup ISPs charge $10 to $15.

They used to charge $10 a month for people that wanted AoL's version of email and other services; I see that is now $14.95.

Everything that $14.95 buys you is available elsewhere on the internet for free. Sometimes that free service requires you to accept advertisements, sometimes it does not.

In the particular case of blogs, see http://tcs.org/ioport/may05/blog.htm for a comparison of Blogger, Live Journal, MSN Spaces, Blogsome (WordPress), and Yahoo 360, plus a list of three other free blog services, and several paid blog services charging less than AoL's $14.95 a month.

AoL lost 2 million customers last year. See this site for further information.

I see several AoL users did not like the designation clueless. I am sorry if they were offended, but I dont know what else to say about someone that pays much more than they should for a service, and I would think that AoL's arbitrary addition of advertisements to their "paid for" blogs should help them to get a clue about what was going on.

Judith HeartSong said...

Don, I never would have housed my art related blog at aol had the blogs had ad banners from the beginning. That seems to be the basic *clue* you are missing.

You are welcome to start a blog there and enjoy the lovely seizure-inducing ad banners.

Don Singleton said...

Don, I never would have housed my art related blog at aol had the blogs had ad banners from the beginning. That seems to be the basic *clue* you are missing.

I suspect you were an AoL user, either paying $23.95 for the dialup access others pay $10 for, or paying the $14.95 in addition to your broadband service, for access to AoL's version of services you can get for elsewhere on the net for free. That is the basis for the clueless attribution that is generally assigned to someone with an AOL email address

You are welcome to start a blog there and enjoy the lovely seizure-inducing ad banners.

Thank you, but as I indicated above, I have set up trial blogs on a number of free blogging services for an article I wrote, and am quite happy with my ad free Blogger.Com blog (although I am considering moving to a WordPress blog.

redsneakz said...

The thing you're forgetting Don, is that the infrastructure is already there - TWX has in fact set everything up for its journaling software to run. So, you're alleging that TWX is asking the journalers to pay for something that's already paid for? Here's yet another clue-card: Look up "Sunk Costs" in your project management book.

Don Singleton said...

I dont know who or what TWX is, nor do I know where I "alleged TWX was asking the journalers to pay for something that's already paid for'.

The subject being discussed was AoL inserting ads in journals that the AoL customers felt they were entitled to for free because they were paying a monthly fee to AoL.

jennifer said...

Actually Don, you are right about the reputation of AOL users as "clueless." The IT guys at my university laugh in my face when I tell them I am an AOL customer.

We tried, as AOL bloggers, to shed that image, to prove that authors of AOL journals/blogs were not simple-minded, clueless people, so much so that AOL used many of our blogs as promotional material for several of their "channels."

And without a word, despite explicit assurances to the contrary, they dropped the A-bomb on us anyway. But the bill is still in the mail.