RealTime IT News

A New Plane of Users For AOL

AOL today announced its acquisition of Userplane, which develops and markets Web-based chat and messaging technology.

Financial details of the deal were not disclosed.

Userplane licenses technology to Web sites and online communities, such as MySpace, Honda, Date.com, Spark, IGN, Tagged, Red Bull and Marvel Comics.

Traditionally, those customers paid a licensing fee for monthly usage.

But about a year ago, the company began to experiment with offering a free, ad-supported version of the application, Userplane founder and former CEO Michael Jones told internetnews.com.

The company then began arranging to split advertising revenues with some of its licensed clients. Jones said that shift, coupled with AOL's own recent emphasis on advertising revenue, made the pairing a natural one.

AOL probably targeted Userplane because of its relative success with brand advertising, Jones said, adding that AOL has to direct its blue-chip advertisers to their new Userplane inventory and letting it sell itself.

Userplane said that its users spend, on average, over 20 minutes per engagement with their service. That's a lot of time for any demographic to soak up a brand image.

And because Userplane's demographic is 18 to 35 year olds, AOL can tell its brand manager clients that they're hitting the right impressionable brains.

It's been a big month for AOL. Two weeks ago, the company announced a 26 percent cut in workforce, and it also recently rechristened itself as an advertising-supported portal.