AOL, Microsoft, and Yahoo officially announced a rumored partnership today, one that would allow advertisers to buy inventory from all the three companies.
The partnership covers "premium, non-guaranteed display inventory," namely, display advertising that's normally sold through ad networks rather than the companies' sales teams, said Ross Levinsohn, Yahoo's executive vice president for the Americas, in a press conference Tuesday afternoon. He called the move a "fundamental rethink of how our digital media is bought and sold."
Starting in January, an advertiser will be able to approach Yahoo, AOL, or Microsoft and purchase ads across Yahoo Network Plus, AOL's Advertising.com, and/or the Microsoft Media Network.
When the rumored deal was reported by tech blog AllThingD in September, media buyers complained that there would be little benefit for them. Today, the executives said the partnership should give advertisers access to a much bigger audience and also promised that it would reduce some of the existing "friction" in the ad-buying process.
While the partnership might seem like an attempt to build a better bulwark against the Google monolith, Rik van der Kooi, corporate vice president of the Microsoft Advertising Group, said, "This isn't a response to anybody in particular." The alliance is potentially open to other partners, according to him.
This does not necessarily mean Google will join, Levinsohn added.