In a move to increase its online advertising revenue, AOL said Wednesday it will make a range of its software and services free for broadband users.
This is the latest move in AOL’s ongoing transition to an ad-supported business model from its traditional subscription-based model. The company wants to bolster a healthy portal and an online advertising business built on content from parent company Time Warner. With this offer, AOL is hoping to attract new users, as well as retain a relationship with the subscribers who drop their AOL dial-up accounts.
AOL, a division of Time Warner, said it has retained the e-mail addresses of users who discontinued the service over the last two years so they’ll be able to reclaim them.
The move could bring former users back within AOL’s grasp and boost the number of viewers for online advertising campaigns. But users have been dropping their AOL subscriptions. Time Warner reported Wednesday that AOL lost 976,000 U.S. subscribers in its second quarter.
AOL now has 17.7 million U.S. subscribers, 3.1 million less than from the same quarter a year before. Advertising revenue, however, rose by $129 million, a 40 percent increase.
The company said it will still offer, but no longer “aggressively” market, its dial-up subscription service. The service costs $25.90 for the premium plan, which includes 50GB of storage and premium customer care. AOL also offers two lower-cost plans.
The free products for broadband users will include AOL’s communications software, with a local phone number offering unlimited incoming calls. Other features include security controls for parents to manage their child’s Internet use.
The plan to attract broadband users will be “fully operational” in early September, AOL said.
In the coming weeks the company plans to roll out new products in safety and security, storage, personalized e-mail domains and video and search-related offerings. The overall AOL software package will also be updated.