Let's check in on the absurd experiment in marketing that is AOL.

Spring into the season with style--the AOL Logo Shop [ 4/18 ]

The "Welcome screen" -- after the mandatory pop-up ads -- offers AOL's users three blurbs pointing to areas on the service. To suck users into throwing their time into demented arguments, it'll say anything.

Would Ginsberg write "Howl" in a Starbucks? Sound off on chains. [ 4/25 ]

Are MUNI drivers a bunch of babies? [ 5/2 ]

KIDS: Zorak needs your help. Give advice to toons in need today. [ 5/12 ]

There's plugs for something called "Digital City Bay Area"

FREE T-Shirts!

Brilliant Sex Advice

[ 5/16 ]

But in the shameless-exploitation-of-the-ignorant department, AOL ran this ad today:

Fill in the blanks, click on your choices, get on the net.

The blurb doesn't mention that it costs $99 a month.

They're advertising AOL's "Primehost" service. But instead of pitching it to businesses, they're taunting innocent AOL users. ("That's less than $4 a day for visibility to millions!")

Why would you go to AOL to host your domain? "AOL's traffic slows down the Primehost server," the CEO of Inter-Ads told me (long after he moved his page from Primehost to Biz-Server.)

The strange thing was, AOL's Primehost page was still displaying a testimonial from him. "Inter-Ads has found no other server with the capacity of PrimeHost," it read. "We are very happy with the service, and sell web sites based on the fact that the PrimeHost server is one of the most reliable servers on the Internet."

"We found it hard to work with the PrimeHost server..." he says now. "It has some strange quirks making it hard to program."

Even the Motley Fool gave up on Primehost service and moved their page to UUNet. I looked up the registration for all the businesses listed on the Primehost page. 27 of them were no longer using Primehost.

So why is AOL pitching the service to users?

Maybe because businessmen can do the math.

Life on AOL - Part I
Life on AOL - Part II
Sneak Preview: Part III
Sneak Preview: Part IV
Life on AOL - Part V
Life on AOL - Part VI
Life on AOL - Part VII
Life on AOL - Part VIII
Life on AOL - Part IX
Life on AOL - Part X
Life on AOL - Part XI
Life on AOL - Part XII
Life on AOL - Part XIII
Life on AOL - Part XIV
Life on AOL - Part XV
Life on AOL - Part XVI
Life on AOL - Part XVII
Life on AOL - Part XVIII
Life on AOL - Part XIX

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