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AOL, Microsoft and Yahoo have stopped short of denying reports they will begin selling each other’s remnant inventory in a pact to shore-up their display ad sales revenue.

The reports initially emerged yesterday via a post on the Wall Street Journal’s All Things D blog, which cited attendees at an agency and publisher briefing in New York.

Representatives of the three companies are said to have briefed attendees on their agreement to sell “class 2”, or remnant, display ad inventory.

Such a deal would see the three companies share ad revenue generated by the pact, and would prevent each of them from having to offload their unsold inventory to ad networks.  

None of the parties involved denied the reports when contacted by new media age although some did suggest that such a pact would only apply to US operations.

In statement, Microsoft said, “We believe that choice, openness and competition help drive innovation in the market. As such, 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.”

Meanwhile, an AOL spokesman said, “We’re fortunate to have long-standing relationships with a large number of premium publishers, including Yahoo and Microsoft. We’re excited to continue to explore opportunities to expand our relationships. We continue to focus our strategy around premium content and premium publishers and expect to continue investments in these areas moving forward. I will share more with you when it’s available.”

Yahoo declined to comment although sources within the companies did stress that such a partnership was likely to apply to the US only.

Such a deal would represent an unprecedented level of cooperation between the three companies. Microsoft and Yahoo implemented their search alliance in the UK last month and AOL is rumoured to be considering a takeover bid for Yahoo following the exit of Carol Bartz as CEO.

Each party has suffered as Google moves more aggressively into the display ad sales market and Facebook continues to chip away at online budgets that would have traditionally been channelled through online portals.

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Published 15 September, 2011 by NMA Staff

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