I worked at AOL for a far shorter period of time than I anticipated, departing because of personal reasons. Even though I was at AOL for a shorter than anticipated period, the experience of working there was wonderful. I worked with some extremely talented people and learned a lot in a short period of time. While there on the AOL Instant Messenger team, I was involved on two projects that eventually got released and was involved in several other initiatives that I unfortunately did not get to see through to completion.
AIM Premium Buddy Icons and Expressions
In 2004, AIM released some premium service features on top of its flagship Instant Messenger product. As part of AOL’s “de-bundling” strategy, AIM released premium Buddy Icons and Expressions. So in addition to the limited selection that the free AIM member could access, AIM was also offering for a fee, access to all the Buddy Icons and Expressions that were offered by full AOL subscribers. Please excuse the very early-2000 visual design aesthetic. That’s the way AOL rolled then. :)
AIM “Ask the Audience” Integration with Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?
AIM and ABC collaborated to create an new and innovative feature within the popular game show Who Wants to Be A Millionaire?. Think of this as an early version of a TV show promoting ‘real time’ engagement with their audience via a Twitter handle. AIM partnered with the gameshow to create a Millionaire IM “bot” that would enable the show’s viewers at home to participate in the “Ask the Audience” lifeline via Instant Messenger. When the AIM user added Millionaire IM to their buddy list, they would receive an IM from the show, when a contestant was in the hot-seat and was using their Ask the Audience lifeline, asking the question that the contestant was stumped on. So not only would the contestant get the results from the studio audience, they would also see the results from the AIM audience that responded via IM. While the target audience for the gameshow did not exactly align with that of AIM, a major reason we did it was as a proof of concept, to test the concept, and to create the model that could be re-used for future opportunities