AOL Inserts Ads Inside Email

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AOL Inserts Ads Inside Email

First, a bit of background from InfoWorld:

“For the first time in its history, AOL is displaying ads along with e-mail messages to its paying subscribers, to increase the delivery mechanisms of its online ad inventory, an AOL spokeswoman confirmed Tuesday.

This practice is common in free Webmail services but generally not in fee-based e-mail accounts, where the absence of ads is normally considered a perk of being a paying subscriber.”

And again, from InfoWorld, AOL’s most loyal subscriber base speaks up:

“Why pay for a service when there is no benefit?” Shinsky, a California resident, said in an e-mail interview.”

And then a last word from TechDirt:

“Obviously, there are plenty of email services that are ad-supported, but this is for paying AOL customers, who for years have been able to read email without ads getting in the way. And, of course, these aren’t just any ads, but (of course) intrusive ads that users complain are distracting. Considering that plenty of people seem to have kept their AOL subscriptions going for many years just to keep their email address, pissing off a bunch of those people doesn’t seem like the smartest strategic move.”

I agree – pissing people off is NOT a prudent business plan, although it seems to have become an important part of AOL’s major strategy over the years. I am assuming that most Search Engine Journal readers don’t have AOL as their gateway to the Internets, but many of us might have relatives (hi Mom!) who have relied on AOL for access. Inserting annoying ads between email messages is not a good way to make friends and influence people.

Wendy Boswell is the Editor for About Web Search and part of the New York Times Company.

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  • m Thomas

    I’ve been with aol about 13 years, since back in the days when my bill was $300-400 a month when they charged by the minute, and I am LIVID about these ads! I went around and changed my email address everywhere, prepatory to cancelling, since we have comcast for broadband and don’t need aol, but when I called they lowered my monthly bill to $4.95 a month so I kept it, and I use thunderbird (free download at to pull my email off and read it offline, no ads that way, plus I re-downloaded aol 8.0 (keyword aol downloads) and I’m using it now, there are no ads in 8.0. I figure it’s worth 5 bucks a month to keep my favorite places, but I’m starting to transfer them as well, in case I cancel aol completely. This is unforgivable, it’s the biggest corporate misstep since new coke.

  • David Groff

    I too have been with AOL forever, and these ads are unforgivable–the straw that breaks this camel’s back. The ads are insulting, intrusive, and read like SPAM. I’m preparing to cancel. How can we spread the word so that AOL knows it has a New Coke on its hands?

  • Melissa

    I too have started getting these ads at the bottom of emails I am reading. I even sent an email to aol asking about this and they said there are no ads in your emails. WELL, YES THERE ARE!!! Very annoying and I really think as a paying customer for over 12 years now I should not have to see these ads in my private emails. I tolerate them at the bottom of my mailbox but it’s pretty darned annoying while trying to read and keep getting flashed by emails.

  • Gary

    I have a new VISTA system with 2GB and these dam AOL ads slow down the opening of email to much is is exasperating. Tired of waiting just to open an email because some unsolicited email is loading and running across the bottom of the screen. I am in the process of switching to Google GMAIL after being with AOL since unlimited service started. Good riddance AOL!

  • Pat

    My husband is setting me up with a gmail address to get off AOL. I get lots of pictures in my from friends and I can’t even see the whole picture unless I save it somewhere. This is even with a 20″ screen. All my friends are dropping AOL as well.

  • hellyn

    I will be leaving AOL soon due to the ads at the bottom of my email. I pay too much money to have these intrusive ads placed on my emails.

  • Howard

    The ads are iritating to say the least but now i cannot communicate with someone using hotmail for their email and that is intolerable the hyper text causes their system to lock up
    i have been on AOL since they took over cserve in the late 80s and have only been disappointed by every new version. AOL IS TERRIBLE thanks for this thread i wont keep pullin my hair out trying to fix it

  • hellyn

    I know, I am so sick of these ads. One would think with all the options out there, AOL would want to keep their customers happy.

  • chigirl97

    you can cancel aol and still have your screen name and email for free! Just be sure NOT to delete your screen name when you cancel aol and it will be available via and their free email. i have canceled 2 aol accounts and am canceling a 3rd,,because of the intrusive ads at the bottom. I am not paying aol to advertise via my email.! ! !

  • Rick

    My mother has been using AOL for years and was I was already disgusted with the way they operate. I called them about certain problems and all I got was non-answers. When they started placing their large, flashy, stupid ads on their WELCOME screen and the ad links at the bottom of the emails and the ads which appear when you log off; it was to much. I sent them a complaint message stating that charging for their service and incorporating this garbage was more than stupid. I threatened to quit if they did not remove the ads. Of course, I never heard from them so I terminated service. I guess they like to lose paying customers. I hope everyone is getting as sick of ads being shoved in their face every time they turn around as I am. I won’t purchase anything any more that I see in advertising.

  • Tara Carlisle

    Thankfully, paid AOL members can now disable ads at the bottom of their outgoing emails by going to keyword: FOOTER and unchecking the box that says “Show the message footer at the bottom of each email you send.”

  • Tara Carlisle

    Also, forgot to add.. If you access your email directly from the aol website, go to your mailbox, click Settings, then Compose, and click “Turn on/off message footers.”

  • Sylvia Edwards

    I would like the ads at the bottom of my email removed. They are too annoying, and I promised myself I WILL NOT do business with any of the ones that use this space to advertise.
    I pay good money each month for the full use of the space and do not get it. It is not fair. PLEASE REMOVE THEM FROM MY EMAIL ADDRESS…

  • Joe

    Thats It i am done ! 12 years and this was the last straw. I am tried of being treated like a child when I call AOL, I am tired of the wait times and the phone trees and the none answers they give but this,This is UNACCEPTABLE! I pay for this service and now you want to flash adds at me while I am trying to compose a email to a customer.Who can think with that crap flashing. I am done with AOL

  • jessica

    I’ve had AOL for over 10 years and am now canceling as soon as I figure out how to keep my email address or forward it. For the last 6 months AOL has consistently overcharged me… I authorized $9.99 per month (unlimited access) but every month is another randomly weird charge, $30.00, $40.00 etc . When I call customer service I get some “english-challenged” person in the philippines who gives me long drawn out BS that makes absolutely no sense at all and then AOL overcharges me again the next month. They’ve overcharged and credited the overcharges back, then overcharge again, over and over. I’m on the phone to customer service for hours every month. Saturday I tried to sign in and a screen popped up saying my account was terminated due to a past due balance. Called them AGAIN and was told I would have to pay the supposed past due if I wanted access to my account (my email) period. The explanation made NO sense and every “consultant” I talked to (5) gave me a different story. They also requested my bank card # every phone call (how many times do I need to give it?) When I cancel I will be sure to go to my bank and block AOL from debiting my account ever again. My bank card # has been repeatedly given to these AOL customer “consultants” in overseas countries -which is obviously a huge risk.

    Is AOL the next US corp going down ????

    Probably not before their executives take the money and run… in the meantime they’ve got access to millions of US debit/bank guess is that this company is on it’s way out. Judging by their current customer service policies – which can best be described as ” don’t like it – tough” I’d say a big rip and run is in progress.

  • Leefeller

    Receiving emails with ads is most annoying, AOL seems to enjoy being annoying. If anyone is interested, I checked around and Fastmail has proven to be a very good email program. I have not use AOL for 20 years or so, but my last email was MAC, who charged 99 dollars a year, the bells and whistles were not something I needed or wanted, so Fastmail has worked for me.


  • Robert H. Bernard

    AOL overcharging since 2006

    I too have a gripe with AOL, but it has to do with AOL overcharging, and not being willing to refund these overcharges.

    I AM SEEKING OTHER AOL CUSTOMERS who may have also been overcharged in the same way.

    I want to hear from others who have or had an AOL minimum account who were paying $14.99 per month and who didn’t know that AOL reduced that fee to $9.99 as far back as 2006, but continued to charge their credit cards or bank accounts $14.99?

    I learned about the lower charge about a year after it happened, and called AOL and asked for the overcharge to be refunded. A person at AOL with a foreign accent told me he couldn’t do that, because it was my fault that I didn’t call and ask for the reduction. He did, however, say he could reduce the fee to $9.99 going forward, and I could call the AOL legal department and ask them for a refund.

    I asked to be transferred to that department, but the AOL agent said he couldn’t transfer me, and gave me a number to call. I tried repeatedly for several weeks and only got a

    “all agents are busy assisting other customers; your call will be answered in the order it was received,” which call was never answered even though I waited up to 15 minutes. Obviously that legal department did not have enough agents to handle the load.

    Finally I gave up and told my credit card company to stop honoring AOLs charges, which it did.

    I thought that was the end of it, but recently I received another call from a person with a foreign accent telling me my AOL account was in arrears by many hundreds of dollars, and they were calling to collect. I told that person I was not anymore an AOL customer and that if they wanted a fight, I would find every AOL customer with the same complaint about overcharges and would file a class action lawsuit to recover all overcharges of all similar cases.

    So I am looking for former AOL customers or even those who are still AOL customers who were either:

    A charged $14.99 when the fee should have been reduced to $9.99, or;

    B. are still paying $14.99 because they didn’t know AOL had reduced the fee for that level of service.

    I want to engage an attorney to investigate this, and I plan to tell him that I will give him 100% of whatever I allegedly owe to AOL, just to get even with AOL for this fraudulent practice.

    Please reply to this message or contact me at