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Annoying Adware: AOL Instant Messenger (SM)

Software functions: Chat and instant-messaging.
Advertising functions: displays a stream of flashing ad banners and serves popup ads.
Network Connections: Multiple connections to AOL servers in the range (port 16898), as well as connection to * (port 16898, intermittent).
Backdoors: Unknown
HD/Registry/Application Snooping: Unknown

It's probably the stupidest advertising ploy ever invented. Aside from the fact that loudly flashing, flickering, colour-crazed come-ons do not tend to inspire endearment to whatever product you're trying to advertise... how smart is it to advertise Internet access (AOL) via an application that must be downloaded from the Internet and requires an existing Internet connection to operate? A bit like selling houses door-to-door, methinks. (Besides, with many of today's AIM users on lovable office and university T1's, why would they want any shitty AOL dialup?)

If you're not interested, why be forced to look at it every day in the first place? Phrozen Crew has released an AOL Instant Messenger AdKiller upgrade that disables advertising features on the version of AIM that comes with older versions of Netscape Navigator. You can get the patch here. This patch does not work against newer versions of the AOL Instant Messager.

Nullsoft, the makers of Winamp, have bitten the scaly AOL hand that feeds them again, with a nifty Winamp visualization plugin that overwrites AIM's ad-space. Now you can look at "AIMazing"s more peaceful grahics instead of annoying blinky ones :) You can read the full(er) story about the plugin here.
Note: Nullsoft has since removed this plugin and all references to it, probably to escape a severe beating from AOL or their lawyers. Luckily I made a copy :)

James Dennis also has a program that removes AIM's banner ads, available at

Charles Aldarondo shared on the message board a solution to remove the AIM ads: Open up Aim.odl and put a ; before every line that has "load_ocm advert". A strange side-effect is that some of the lesser-used menu options will display something strange, e.g. #E80224. Similarly, to get rid of the news ticker that appears on newer AIM clients, comment out all occurrances of "load_ocm ticker".

Another solution comes in thanks to Say Herin. Open the file "advert.ocm" in a hex-editor (or cracked version of Windows' Wordpad that allows you to open executable files) and use its Search feature (if it has one) to look for the tag "<HTML>" in the program code. This brings you to an area in the file where there is HTML code! Wherever you see some HTML, replace it (e.g. by typing over it) with junk data, for example underscores (___). If using Wordpad/etc., make sure it is typing over the code and not inserting stuff in front of the code! ( If the editor has inserted things in front of the code, delete them and then press the <INS> key to switch to type-over mode, then type them over the code.) This is very important, because changing the file size or the position of the rest of the data in the file may cause the program to not run correctly (in other words crash!).
Still another solution comes courtesy of Cringer:

Here's how to trick the Netscape AIM into not displaying ads. It's a trick and the program falls for it.  It's actually pretty funny because I figured it out and it works.

Open the AIM folder; Usually C:\Program Files\Netscape\Communicator\Program\AIM

Find these files:


With AIM closed, rename or delete the "advert.ocm" file.  Then, copy the "admin.ocm" file to the same folder. It will be named "Copy of Admin.ocm".  Rename "Copy of Admin.ocm" to "advert.ocm".  When you open the messenger, it will display nothing in the advertisement area and will be 100% free of ads.  I have found no problems in doing this.  I have version 4.3.2229 and this trick also worked on the previous version as well.  It may work on newer version too, but I haven't tested it yet.


Note: See the Adware Neutering section.

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