AOL, Microsoft, Yahoo agree on APIs to streamline programmatic digital ad sales

What: Three of the main leaders in digital advertising worldwide agree on a series of technical specifications aimed towards standardizing programmatic direct digital advertising sales.
Why is it important: This is a breakthrough in the whole purchasing process of premium digital ad sales, as advertisers and agencies will have less trouble in finding, ordering and paying for premium inventory, because everything will be better automated and therefore it will "help speed the migration of offline media spend to online", as Rik van der Kooi, corporate vice president, Microsoft Advertising, said.

AOL, Microsoft and Yahoo have joined together to introduce a new, streamlined set of API specifications which overall goal is to simplify the purchase and sale of premium digital ad space. These new standards (expected to be available "in the coming months") will make it simpler and easier for agencies and marketers to buy via real-time bidding (RTB).

As reported yesterday by Bloomberg, buying and selling of premium ad offerings has been largely constrained by manual sales processes, so if other publishers and ad technology vendors align around the common set of APIs Microsoft, AOL and Yahoo will be providing, the growth of programmatic trading will be enhanced, as this would 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 more than 50 per cent of the inventory that is currently sold via manual processes. 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”, said Seth Demsey, senior vice president, global advertising products and strategy at AOL Networks.

As John Ramey, founder and CEO of programmatic direct company isocket (a Burlingame, CA-based company dedicated to building tech for direct ad sales and Microsoft's partner in programmatic direct) explained in an interview to Media Post's Tyler Loechner, "programmatic direct is using technology to speed up and automate the process of direct deals. It eliminates Excel spreadsheets, fax machines, RFPs, IOs, etc., from the trading process. It deals with direct, guaranteed campaigns, and fills 'the manual gap in the middle with technology'."

As Ramey said, this announcement is a true milestone in the evolution of programmatic direct because of the size and importance of AOL, Microsoft, and Yahoo, and many significant publishers are already embracing it. The announcement of the three joining together means –as Ramey puts it– "that Microsoft, AOL, and Yahoo are collectively 'putting their stamp' on programmatic direct."

Sources: Bloomberg, The Drum, Media Post News.

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