Microsoft (MSFT -0.9%), AOL, and Yahoo (YHOO +3.3%) have established APIs for an ad partnership formed in 2011, meant to enable the sharing of the companies' display ad inventory and the integration of their real-time (programmatic) bidding platforms.
The APIs allow advertisers to more quickly/easily make programmatic bids that cover all three companies' ad networks. Microsoft, AOL, and Yahoo are hoping other publishers and ad tech firms will support the API. The companies' end game: to create a stronger rival to Google's (GOOG) DoubleClick by pooling resources.
Google, whose display ad ops have been growing rapidly, rolled out new programmatic ad deal types for DoubleClick in April. eMarketer estimates the U.S. programmatic market, which AOL is betting big on, will grow 73% in 2013 to $3.36B, and total $8.49B (29% of display ad spend) in 2017. Recent IPO Rocket Fuel (FUEL) provides a programmatic ad-buying platform (backed by AI-based algorithms).
Microsoft is forming a 49:51 Chinese game console JV with local firm BesTV, a move that allows it to officially enter a market where the Xbox is banned. Unofficially, the Xbox is easy to find on the black market, with users typically buying modified versions that support pirated games.
The JV will be based in Shanghai's new free-trade zone, where the Chinese government reportedly plans to allow access to Facebook, Twitter, and other sites currently blocked in the country. Will Google/YouTube also see an opening?