America Online expanded its existing Major League Baseball offerings with the launch of an AOL Instant Messenger service to access MLB.com content through IM.
Users of AOL’s IM service can send a message to screen name “MLB” and be presented with a menu of options to view news headlines, scores and schedules, and links to broadband content.
The service is part of a broader partnership between AOL and MLB Advanced Media, Major League Baseball’s interactive marketing arm. Since AOL for Broadband launched in March 2003, AOL has offered MLB content, like video of game-by-game highlights, plays of the week, and all-time great plays. In an expanded deal signed in March 2004, AOL added additional broadband content, including live audio and downloadable condensed game videos of all games, MLB.com Radio and specially produced video content.
As part of its efforts to deliver the “better Internet” touted in its newest branding effort, AOL has been pushing into new areas, like shopping and increased broadband content, while accelerating efforts to protect its members from things like spam and spyware.
Instant messaging is a fast-growing, largely untapped medium for advertising. AOL has been using its AIM service for marketing for a few years. It has produced IM bots to promote partners and its own content areas, including eBay, Ford Motor Co., Nike, and AOL Yellow Pages listings.
An early 2004 study of more than 2,200 U.S. adults from Pew Internet & American Life Project, revealed that 21 percent — or 11 million individuals — use IM at work, where some say it serves as a teamwork tool and others say it is a personal distraction. AOL’s own research found that 27 percent of IM users said they used AIM in the workplace, representing a 71 percent increase over 2003’s findings.
IM users aren’t all sitting at their desks, according to research released in August by AOL. A survey of 4,510 respondents, conducted by Opinion Research Corp., found that 19 percent of mobile IM users currently send instant and short message service (SMS) ( define) communications, while only 10 percent said they engaged in the activity in 2003.
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