AOL, Microsoft, Yahoo agree to streamline access to premium ad inventory for advertisers

AOL, Microsoft, Yahoo agree to streamline access to premium ad inventory for advertisers
Three leaders in digital advertising converge on technical specifications for programmatic sales, simplifying the purchasing process of premium digital ad inventory.

NEW YORK Sept. 24, 2013 AOL Inc., Microsoft Corp. and Yahoo on Tuesday announced that they have each committed to converge around a common set of API specifications for the premium programmatic digital advertising sales channel. The goal is to make it easier for advertisers and agencies to procure premium digital advertising by reducing the friction in discovering, ordering and paying for premium inventory.

The companies are committing to work together on a defined set of APIs that will better automate the process for buying premium digital advertising. The absence of this type of standardization and common specifications has historically inhibited the growth of the online media business. Although the programmatic buying model has helped address an industry wide need to buy inventory faster and more efficiently - through direct response and real-time bidded mechanisms - it has yet to address the challenges brand marketers and publishers face when seeking to predictably and seamlessly reach consumers across multiple devices via premium digital advertising offerings.
AOL, Microsoft and Yahoo will make the API specifications available in the coming months. The companies encourage other publishers and ad technology vendors in the industry to adopt or adhere to the API specifications, which should enable ecosystem growth.

"Microsoft, together with AOL and Yahoo, is committed to the growth of programmatic premium," said Rik van der Kooi, corporate vice president, Microsoft Advertising. "We see this approach as being both 'advertiser friendly' and 'publisher friendly' – something that will address the challenges and inefficiencies that make it hard to scale big brand buys on the internet. Ultimately, we believe this will serve as a catalyst to unlock pent-up demand for premium publisher offerings and help speed the migration of offline media spend to online."

Previously, the buying and selling of premium ad offerings had been largely constrained by manual sales processes. The alignment around a set of API specifications will complement current direct sales channels and remove barriers for both advertisers wanting to buy and publishers wanting to sell programmatically.

"We're working to programmatically enable the more than 50 percent of inventory that is currently sold via manual processes," said Seth Demsey, senior vice president, Global Advertising Products and Strategy at AOL Networks. "This is digital's next salvo in the efficiency war, bringing more premium inventory online. Agencies and brands have spoken. Automation of manual processes is a key priority. This is our collective response and the beginning of the journey to simplify the ecosystem and shift more TV budgets online."

"We are thrilled to work with Microsoft and AOL to collectively improve programmatic buying - simplifying the process for advertisers to buy premium digital ad inventory and making it easier for them to do business overall," said Dennis Buchheim, vice president, product management for Display Advertising at Yahoo. "Aligning our APIs helps create a thriving digital ad environment where advertisers can feel confident that their programmatic efforts help maximize potential for high-quality premium ad placements and a higher return on their ad dollars."

The announcement has been met with support from a number of companies in the ecosystem, including Yieldex, which runs the largest revenue and inventory analytics platform for digital publishers.

"We are thrilled to work with Microsoft, Yahoo and AOL to collectively improve programmatic buying - simplifying the process for agencies to buy premium digital ad inventory," said Tom Shields, co-founder and chief strategy officer of Yieldex. "Our mission is to make it easier for premium publishers to increase efficiency and maximize revenue. Supporting these new standards helps our customers maintain their premium value while enabling them to realize the benefits of selling programmatically."

About AOL
AOL Inc. (NYSE: AOL) is a brand company, committed to continuously innovating, growing, and investing in brands and experiences that inform, entertain, and connect the world. The home of a world-class collection of premium brands, AOL creates original content that engages audiences on a local and global scale. We help marketers connect with these audiences through effective and engaging digital advertising solutions.

About Yahoo
Yahoo is focused on making the world's daily habits inspiring and entertaining. By creating highly personalized experiences for our users, we keep people connected to what matters most to them, across devices and around the world. In turn, we create value for advertisers by connecting them with the audiences that build their businesses. Yahoo is headquartered in Sunnyvale, Calif., and has offices located throughout the Americas, Asia Pacific (APAC) and the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) regions. For more information, visit the pressroom (pressroom.yahoo.net) or the company's blog (yahoo.tumblr.com).

About Microsoft
Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq "MSFT") is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

For more information, press only:
Caroline Campbell, vice president, Brand & Communications, AOL, (w) 202-442-3101, (c) 404-444-7970, c.campbell@teamaol.com

Ryan Day, Microsoft, (425) 421-1931, rday@microsoft.com

Julie Nicholson, Yahoo, (212) 381-6822, jnich@yahoo-inc.com

Rapid Response Team, Waggener Edstrom Worldwide for Microsoft, (503) 443-7070, rrt@waggeneredstrom.com

Note to editors: For more information, news and perspectives from Microsoft, please visit the Microsoft News Center at http://www.microsoft.com/news. Web links, telephone numbers and titles were correct at time of publication, but may have changed. For additional assistance, journalists and analysts may contact Microsoft's Rapid Response Team or other appropriate contacts listed at http://www.microsoft.com/news/contactpr.mspx.

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