AOL Hawks Instant Messenger To College Students

America Online has launched its first ad campaign for AIM, its popular instant messenger service. The campaign will run online and in outdoor ads at 40 college campuses.

Web ads are running on sites visited by college students, such as MTV.com, MySpaces.com, and TheFacebook.com. "As they graduate, they'll really start to establish a lifestyle and a habit that will carry through into their lives," said Chamath Palihapitiya, AOL's vice president and general manager of AIM and ICQ, referring to the students AOL is targeting. "We hope to see success long-term."

Amy Essene, AOL's vice president of audience brand strategy, said a large part of the branding effort will be focused on depicting AIM as a multiple-media communications platform, encompassing VoIP, e-mail, and SMS in addition to instant messaging. "We have tremendous loyalty--what we're trying to do is extend that loyalty through other areas besides instant messaging," she said.

In the past, Essene said, the company relied almost exclusively on viral passalong to AIM. The campaign is scheduled to run through the end of next month.

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