When AOL launched back in the 90s, its premise was the idea of a portal, through which subscribers would check their e-mail and filter their experience of the web. In 2006 AOL dumped its subscription service, shifting gears to an ad-supported model.
The problem has been that ad revenues have yet to compensate for the millions of subscribers who have left the service. So today, AOL is launching a new home page that takes into consideration the way people now use the Internet and aims to make the idea of a portal relevant again.
The new AOL allows users to access outside email accounts like Gmail or Yahoo mail, and it will allow you to log into your social networking sites so you can get friend updates on your AOL homepage. Next month you'll be able to add local news, or other links to the page. The new site aims to personalize the homepage for you, without you having to even make any decisions; if you click to finance sites from AOL, it'll feature more business news on the AOL page. So in theory, you'd use AOL like a home page, an aggregator for the content you're frequently accessing online.
So let's say this does end up driving traffic. Can it sufficiently drive ad sales? AOL advertising grew just 1.5 percent in the second quarter compared to 20 percent growth for online advertising in the US that same quarter. Is this throwing good money after bad?
Perhaps most likely, this is probably a way to spruce up the division--and its numbers--before attempting to spin it off.
- AOL adding third-party content to AOL.com
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