AOL, Microsoft, Yahoo to share display ad inventory

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AOL, Microsoft Corp. and Yahoo have agreed to share unsold display ad inventory, according to numerous news reports.

The partnership, which will take effect by the end of this year, will allow the three companies to sell display ad inventory on each other's sites, according to's Peter Kafka, who first reported the partnership on Sept. 14. The three companies will share revenue from the ads sold, Kafka reported.

A Yahoo spokesperson said via email that nothing has been announced yet.

“We are always looking for ways to partner with others in the digital advertising ecosystem to offer innovative solutions that benefit advertisers and publishers. However, we have nothing specific to share at this time,” said a Microsoft spokesperson via email.

AOL did not immediately respond to request for comment.

The reported partnership is “a defensive move against Google,” said Karsten Weide, research VP for digital media and entertainment at market intelligence firm IDC.  

“Google's display network primarily is direct response marketing and that is something that competes with [AOL, Microsoft and Yahoo's] so-called class-two [display] business — for instance, remnant inventory sales,” he said. Weide added that the reported partnership will have “some effect, but I don't think the impact is going to be that huge [on the marketplace].”

Microsoft and Yahoo struck a deal in July 2009 for the Redmond, Wash.-based company to provide search technology for Yahoo sites in exchange for Yahoo handling relationship premium ad sales for both companies.

During the first quarter, Google overtook Yahoo as the US online display ad market leader, according to a May 2011 report from IDC.

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