AIM Launches Presence Program

America Online is expected to launch a new program today that will allow social networking and community sites, as well as consumer-generated media sites, to more closely integrate with the AIM application. The move is aimed at boosting usage and loyalty to AIM at a time when competition among instant messaging players is heating up.

AOL has signed four new partners who are integrating AIM’s presence information and one-click access to the AIM application into their sites. In addition, AOL has created a self-service program for individuals or small businesses to do the same.

“What we’re trying to do is extend the reach and presence of AIM, while complementing the other sites and applications,” Chamath Palihapitiya, VP and general manager of AIM and ICQ at AOL, told ClickZ News. “It drives up the engagement and usage of AIM as well as the site it’s on, so advertisers on both sides benefit.”

If the integration increases messaging traffic, that will increase the number of ad impressions that AOL can sell. It should also help advertisers on the partner sites by keeping users engaged for a longer time, he said.

The AIM Presence program provides individual users or small businesses a free distribution license to publish AIM presence on their site. AOL expects this to appeal to bloggers, heavy AIM users, and small businesses that want to make themselves available for instant messaging from their online customers, Palihapitiya said.

“Now your local plumber or dry cleaner can use AIM to generate lead volume and make their service better,” he said. “The people they’ve spent all that money on driving to their Web site will find it easier to do business with them.”

Commercial sites involved in the program include Facebook, LinkedIn, Six Apart and Glam.com. These sites are integrating AIM with their applications in varying ways. Facebook will build AIM presence into profile pages in its college-user community. Six Apart will enable the more than 11 million bloggers using its Movable Type, TypePad and LiveJournal services to share their AIM presence information on their blogs. Fashion and beauty editorial and e-commerce site Glam.com will add AIM presence to its users’ profiles to encourage a more social shopping experience.

LinkedIn will integrate AIM presence into the profiles of its 3.8 million business users. LinkedIn has also been chosen to be the preferred provider of business profiles for the AIM service. For LinkedIn, this agreement is expected to drive adoption of its service by AIM users, as well as add functionality for its own users to interact with contacts in their network.

It’s also part of another trend for LinkedIn, where application developers are beginning to link their applications to offer interconnected services, according to Konstantin Guericke, VP marketing at LinkedIn. Guericke points to HR recruiting application provider Taleo and online classifieds aggregator Simply Hired as two examples of this.

“These kinds of things add to the functionality that we can give our users, especially in places we know we’re not able to serve their needs. In the end, it makes LinkedIn a stronger destination site,” he said.

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