Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Who’s Still Using AOL? Your Mom.

momNo one in tech’s chattering classes will fess up to visiting AOL. Time Warner’s (TWX) portal is a dinosaur, we all tell ourselves, that simply won’t acknowledge that it’s extinct.

Except that it’s not. At the end of last year, AOL was averaging 109 million unique visitors a month. So who are these people?

Turns out there’s a good chance they look like your mother–if your mom is somewhere between the ages of 45 and 64, and uses the site to get a little “me time.”

That’s according to Digitas, the ad agency working on behalf of the portal’s core property. And now AOL wants that audience to become just a touch more youthful, via an ad campaign slated to launch this spring.

Here’s how AOL sees, according to a document Digitas circulated to Web publishers last month: offers an escape from the daily grind with its window into news, entertainment, lifestyle, finance/money, social networking and helpful tools to manage a busy lifestyle. Users get all the ‘snacks’ they need by taking a break for some ‘me time’ at”

And here’s the site’s sense of its users–and who it would like its users to actually be following the online ad campaign, scheduled to run from April through July:

AOL traditionally appeals to a core 45-64 year-old female audience. With this campaign we aim to skew a shade younger.

PRIMARY TARGET–We will primarily target a slightly younger Gen X/Baby Boomer female. She may be a busy household manager looking for ways to economize. Beyond task based internet use, she often turns to the online world as a means to relieve stress and escape her day by indulging in soft news, relevant tips, email, shopping. etc.  We have coined these women ‘i-Browsers.’”

Specifically, AOL/Digitas says, it’s going after women ages 30-44 who don’t currently come to the site. It also wouldn’t mind targeting women ages 45-54, and adults of both genders between 30 and 54.

And just to be clear–neither AOL’s existing demo nor its desire to shift that demo a bit younger is a bad thing.

In fact it’s a great thing, at least right now: Advertisers aren’t spending much money trying to sell cars or financial products these days, but they’re still trying to move food, clothing, cleaning products and other stuff that falls under the “consumer packaged goods” rubric. Stuff that women (still) buy for their families. So no need for AOL to  be bashful about reaching that audience.

[Image credit: freeparking]

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