Microsoft, AOL, Yahoo Join Forces in Developing Premium Ad API

Microsoft, AOL and Yahoo are teaming up to develop specifications for advertising APIs, the trio announced Tuesday. The goal is to make it easier for media buyers to discover, price and order premium digital inventory.

Typically premium ad inventory (think ads on a home page) are sold through direct sales channels. "What these companies are doing represents a shift in the ad industry as a whole," said Clark Fredricksen of marketing research firm eMarketer.

Programmatic buying enables marketers to use a wide range of targeting technologies to pin-point consumers. "It enables advertisers to reach people at a very granular level,” Fredricksen said.

Microsoft, AOL and Yahoo say they will announce the new API specifications in coming months.

Several agencies, advertisers, and channel partners are already piloting Yahoo’s API for this type of programmatic buying, Yahoo wrote in a blog post.  Over the coming months, additional clients and ad technology vendors will have an opportunity to adopt the APIs to streamline the programmatic buying process.

“Automation of manual processes is a key priority,” said Seth Demsey, AOL’s senior vice president of global advertising. “This is digital’s next salvo in the efficiency war, bringing more premium inventory online.” The goal is to switch more than 50% of premium ad buying from manual to automated processes, he said.

This is not the first time the trio has come together on an ad plan. Two years ago, the three companies announced a consortium where they would start selling remnant ad inventory on each other’s sites. AllThingsD first reported on that story in September 2011.

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