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But did AOL just shoot itself in the foot?
The fallout from Rush Limbaugh’s tirade over the Georgetown University student Sandra Fluke, who Limbaugh so eloquently called a “prostitute” and a “slut,” continued with the boycott of yet another sponsor, the 12th to take themselves off his show.
This time it's Internet giant AOL who today on released this statement on its Facebook page:
"At AOL one of our core values is that we act with integrity. We have monitored the unfolding events and have determined that Mr. Limbaugh’s comments are not in line with our values. As a result we have made the decision to suspend advertising on The Rush Limbaugh Radio show."
Even though he apologized for the comments Limbaugh is still hemorrhaging sponsors. AOL is the 12th advertiser to pulled out of his show. The others are AllState, Pro Flowers, Bonobos, Sears, Quicken Loans, Sleep Train, Sleep Number, Tax Resolution Services, Citrix Systems Inc., Carbonite, and Legal Zoom. Limbaugh’s show was also dropped by two radio stations today: one in Hawaii and one in Massachusetts.
While those advertisers and radio stations may be worth something, I'm sure some of you are thinking: "So what if AOL drops Limbaugh? It's AOL. Do people even still use AOL?"
And to those people I say, first of all, yes some do. Also, please try remember who Rush Limbaugh's audience is.
The average age of a Limbaugh listener, or "dittoheads" as they are sometimes referred to, is 67 years old.
Now look at who still uses AOL.
The average age, according to AOL's own website is 40 years old. Yes, that is 27 years younger than the average Dittohead, but it is still by far the oldest on the Internet. Almost 75% of Gmail users are under 34, and over 50% of Yahoo users are as well. That number is only 42% for AOL.
So what does this all mean? Maybe a lot. Maybe nothing. Only time will tell who this move hurts more, Limbaugh or AOL. On the one hand, Limbaugh's audience is notoriously loyal to him, and with his ratings he should have no problem filling the slot.
On the other hand, maybe this is AOL's play for younger users who they will need to stay afloat in the coming years, a move that it hard to imagine working.
As of July 2011, AOL had less than 60,000 emails sent per month, compared to nearly 250,000 for Gmail and almost 240,000 for Yahoo. The last thing that AOL can afford do now is potentially alienate its remaining users by taking a hardline stand against a man that at least some of their clients surely listen to.
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