AOL’s Traffic Engine, AIM, is Revamped

America Online has launched AIM Triton, its next generation instant messenger client. The upgraded offering brings together the company’s free email, mobile texting, video and voice chat services in one place.

Triton has few direct ad implications for users or marketers, though it is part of a grand strategy on AOL’s part to boost traffic — and hence inventory — across its other offerings.

Spokesperson Krista Thomas said AIM is a substantial source of traffic to AOL’s various media categories. “AIM is quite often the number one driver of traffic to AOL Music,” she said. “Other brands that are getting a lot of traffic are AOL TV, AOL Movies, AOL Diets.”

The company hopes AIM can do for its various service offerings what it’s done for content. In addition to plain vanilla IM, Triton integrates the company’s free email offering, mobile texting, video and voice chat.

On install, AIM Triton automatically offers Plaxo as part of the address book setup process. Unified address book management is part of a deal the portal has with the smaller player. Additionally, Triton has numerous interface changes, including a streamlined file transfer option and enhanced screening of inbound messages to prevent SPIM (define).

The presentation of programming on the AIM Today companion Web screen has also changed. It will be updated more frequently with content geared toward young people.

“We anticipate that the AIM Triton service will accelerate the growing use of voice, video and desktop-to-mobile messaging across all users,” said Chamath Palihapitiya, VP and GM for AIM and ICQ, in a statement.

At least one new ad product was tested while Triton was in beta. In a pre-release version, AOL served ads to a random subset of users inside the chat window. In the official release, the company made these new ads available to certain users as an option, but nobody saw them by default. To opt in to them, a user must edit the settings.

In its previous version of AIM, AOL triggered some complaints with the addition of two marketing bots, MovieFone and ShoppingBuddy, to all its users’ buddy lists. Those bots have been removed for newcomers to AIM who install Triton going forward, but will continue to appear for those who upgrade.

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