AOL Rediscovers the User

New Software (and Bosses) at AOL is a great article on the NYT web site today. It discusses how the revamped leadership of the company is moving back to being user-centric in their approach to business as opposed to investor-centric. Here is a snippet about their plans to reduce pop-up ads:

The worst fears of Mr. Leonsis and his colleagues became evident late last year as AOL’s monthly surveys found member satisfaction starting to dip. Mr. Leonsis formed a task force to look at why members were canceling their service. It zeroed in on pop-up advertisements, a longtime feature and to many a longtime annoyance. As revenue began to fall last year, AOL had increased the frequency of pop-ups, and members began to complain louder than usual.

A study showed that when the number of pop-up ads was cut in half for a group of members, their satisfaction improved notably. That led not only to a cutback in the number of pop-ups across the service, but was, according to Mr. Leonsis, the catalyst for a revolution within AOL.

The article also indicates they are trying to refocus on the supporting the community of AOL users. Sounds like they are coming back to reality.