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Digital-ad three-way: Yahoo, Microsoft, AOL strike a deal

The three companies will cross-sell each other's ads, supposedly to "reduce friction in the marketplace."

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Whether or not Yahoo is going to be bought by anyone soon (including Microsoft and AOL, as previously rumored), the three are linked for now by new display advertising deals.

Basically, the agreements between Yahoo, Microsoft and AOL will allow ad networks operated by this trio to offer each other's premium, non-reserved online display inventory to their respective advertising customers. It's touted to "dramatically improve the process of buying and selling premium online display inventory."

The companies first tipped this plan at a September dinner briefing in New York.

Ross Levinsohn, Yahoo's executive vice president for the Americas region, explained in a statement Yahoo's new direction following these agreements:

There has a been a significant shift in how inventory is bought and sold, and we're now 100 percent focused on controlling our own destiny, working directly with marketers and agencies and driving better returns for our advertising partners.

AOL's chief revenue officer Ned Brody added that the agreement should reduce friction in this marketplace, promising more benefits to both advertisers and publishers.

The overarching deal is only effective in the United States on the premise of audience-based selling across a large number of sites. It shouldn't affect sales made by any respective internal teams. Each company will still make its own decisions, ad networks and other parts of its display businesses while continuing to compete for advertising and publishing partners.

These customers can choose to partner across Yahoo! Network Plus, AOL's Advertising.com and the Microsoft Media Network, but the agreement will also offer the option of buying display inventory at scale to reach their audiences.

However, Yahoo and AOL have extended the agreement to cover Canada as well, but Microsoft's subsidiary in that country is not involved.

This item first appeared in ZDNet's Between the Lines blog.