Short text advertisements touting AOL products and services are now being tacked to the bottom of e-mail messages sent from some AOL accounts.
The change, which began Tuesday, affects e-mails sent from AOL accounts using the internet provider's AOL 9.0 software, which is available to AOL's 13 million paid subscribers and others who have downloaded the program.
E-mails sent through AOL's Webmail service, which is available for free on the company's Web site, have had the ads attached for about eight months, said AOL spokeswoman Anne Bentley.
The 34-word tag suggests readers check out free AOL services at the company's Web site.
Bentley said the ad is a reminder to people, especially those paying for AOL service, that many products like e-mail are now available for free. She said the current plan is to use the ads to promote AOL services.
She said AOL received "a smattering of e-mails" complaining about the ads but said the company plans to continue using them.
In the past year AOL has moved away from its traditional business model of subscription fees for Internet access and content in favor of providing free services supported by online advertising.
Dulles-based AOL is a division of Time Warner Inc.