One consolation for AOL: Its advertisers are doing OK

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Even though major traffic jams caused America Online to at least temporarily halt its $100 million ad campaign, advertisers on the service received a boon.

America Online, swamped by heavy usage under its $19.95 "unlimited access" pricing plan, was wrestling with slow--and in some cases blocked--service to its 8 million customers last week.

But Myer Berlow, AOL's VP-national accounts, said that because of higher traffic levels, marketers' cost-per-thousand ad buys--priced in the $20 to $80 range--are doing double delivery, particularly during network prime-time hours, he said, peaking around 7 p.m. EST.

The logjam has led to numerous lawsuits against the online service, which has seen traffic double in the past four months as usage jumped from 45 million hours in September to 100 million hours in January, according to AOL.

To remedy the situation, AOL plans to temporarily halt its "Jetsons" TV campaign, launched in October from TBWA Chiat/Day, New York. In addition to pulling TV spots, AOL said it would reduce direct marketing targeted at high-use communities. TBWA said they're in the process of pulling spots for AOL, though some were still running at press time. The agency is also unclear about whether or not AOL will advertise during the Super Bowl; TBWA has talked with AOL in recent weeks about advertising on it.

AOL said it would add an additional $100 million to its established $250 million budget for improving network capacity.

Contributing: Laura Petrecca

Copyright January 1997, Crain Communications Inc.

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