Last week I logged into AOL Instant Messenger and I got prompted to add two new buddies to my list. I was confused because they were from AOL and they were called AIM Bots. I didn’t accept the first time I logged on, but the second time around my curiosity took over. One bot was called “ShoppingBuddy” and the other was called “Moviefone”. I found that after playing around with them that these IM Robots can answer questions and instantly deliver news or information. What I also found out later was that, “AIM bots are nothing new; they have existed on the service in various forms for years.”
When I clicked on the “ShoppingBuddy”, I first asked it if I could find more information about “iPods”. The bot came back with “no results”. Then I asked the bot about clothing and instantly I had the ability to choose among many items. If I typed in “1” I would get information back about shirts and “2” I would get information about pants. I quickly realized that what I was interacting with was an advertisement for the Gap. After a few clicks of narrowing down what I wanted, I was introduced to a hyperlink (URL) to the Gap’s website for the exact shirt I wanted. Wow!
When I clicked on Moviefone, I typed in “Reese” and got back two results of movies starring Reese Witherspoon. If I typed “1” I would choose “Walk the Line” and “2” is for “Just Like Heaven”. If I choose “1”, the bot then asks me to enter in my zip code. After I enter my five digits, I get all the theatres and show times in my area. Wow!
I particularly didn’t like the way AOL intrusively asked me to add their bot buddies to my list. I would have preferred it if I saw an advertisement for these “bots” and I added them myself. I really think AOL scared many people with this bold move of prompting the user to add something alien to their system; however on the other hand, the people that added these bots are potential sales. AIM Bots are a great new medium for marketing. If you have kids and they use Instant Messenger (IM) get ready for another way marketers can make a sale.