AOL, Infinity in Content-Swap Promo

Call it an embedded cross-promotional content deal between Infinity
Broadcasting’s old-style radio and IP-based radio within ISP America Online .

AOL and Infinity, the radio station holding company, said Tuesday they
would team up in a unique cross-marketing campaign to share
and broadcast each other’s content across their respective networks.

The
arrangement is part of AOL’s promotion of its AOL for
Broadband
enhanced services it unveiled Monday.

Infinity, which owns 183 radio stations that reach about 73 million
listeners nationwide each week, will use the AOL for Broadband service
in its stations, the companies said. The staff will collect real-time news and entertainment updates via the broadband service — a marketing device that will ostensibly include announcers mentioning the AOL for Broadband service during their on-air chatter.

The companies said the broadband service is installed at all of its radio stations, including New York’s WFAN, Chicago’s WXRT, and KROQ in Los Angeles.

Joe Redling, AOL’s chief marketing officer, said the arrangement includes
radio spots for the broadband product that will air across Infinity
stations.

At the same time, AOL’s own radio service will stream content
from at least five of Infinity’s radio stations content over its AOL Radio
Network. That will include the company’s popular [email protected]
service, which provides about 200 different music, news, entertainment and sports genres.

AOL’s partnership with Infinity is part of its
major marketing effort to promote its broadband service. The estimated $35
million campaign, designed in part to reposition the service as more edgy,
kicked off
last week
with the “Welcome to the World Wide Wow” spots during the
Academy Awards broadcast.

In its bid to attract a new broadband crowd, the
saucy spots position AOL as a hip ISP that is ahead of the curve with pop culture and entertainment and relevant to what consumers look for in their online experience.

For example, AOL and MLB Advanced Media (MLBAM) announced a content deal
that lets broadband subscribers access a variety of video and audio
programming features on MLB.com’s “Total
Ticket” service, including live audio coverage of every big league game.

The deal is one of several content arrangements AOL is providing
exclusively to its subscribers, including video and content from the NFL,
NBA, NASCAR, and the NHL.

The AOL for Broadband marketing campaign also includes a 50-market tour
with
a retro-fitted 18-wheeler truck that will be making stops at NASCAR events.
Tried-and-true direct marketing won’t be overlooked either: AOL promotional
CDs offering trials
of the enhanced service will arrive in mailboxes soon.

In related news, a spokesman for AOL confirmed that 420 jobs
were cut in its customer service call centers.

The cuts were in service centers in Oklahoma, Arizona, Utah and Ohio, the
company said, as part of ongoing cost-cutting efforts that AOL executives
detailed to Wall Street analysts at a meeting in December.

One reason for the consolidation among its customer service call centers is that with each release of the AOL service, the product also becomes stable and
requires fewer calls, said spokesman Jim Whitney.

In addition, he said the layoffs would not affect the latest customer-service efforts to support new broadband sign-ups.

Customer service staff have deployed phone and live chat sessions
as part of their outreach and are available 24-hours a day, seven days a
week, he said. “They
are very focused on providing broadband members with a great experience and
also answering any questions they may have.”

The marketing of the latest broadband offerings, which include a range of content and services such as firewall software, comes as U.S. households increasingly sign on to broadband connections. AOL, which saw its mostly dial-up base of 35 million subscribers slide by about 175,000 during the fourth quarter, is pulling out all the stops in its effort to build its broadband base, which it pegs at about 2.7 million, while at the same time servicing its narrowband customers.

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