Posted September 14, 2011 9:52 am by with 3 comments

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According to AllThingsD, AOL, Yahoo and Microsoft unveiled plans to take on Google by joining forces to sell each other’s ad inventory. The plan is to try a collective approach to battling Google and others.

The strategy is also designed to help them claw back some ad spending that has ended up in the hands of ad networks in recent years.

Executives from all three companies briefed a group of top Web publishers and ad buyers about the plan at a dinner presentation last night in Manhattan. AOL, Yahoo and Microsoft hope to convince big Web properties to share some of their ad inventory as well, and to get big ad holding companies to funnel some of their purchases through the consortium.

AllThingsD, cutely, uses an image of the Three Musketeers and even throws an “All for One!” into the article’s title. This would all be perfectly appropriate, except for one small details about the consortium.

This one…

Microsoft, Yahoo and AOL have agreed to sell each other’s “Class 2 display” inventory — graphic ads the companies can’t sell on their own and would normally hand over to ad networks.

In other words, the crap ads.

The ads that perform so badly or are so overpriced that neither Microsoft, Yahoo, or AOL can sell them directly–not even with their own skilled sales force. That’s like the Three Musketeers getting together and saying, “I need to keep my sharpest sword for my best fights, but I’m happy to pick up this rusted knife and give it a crack!”

These Class 2 ads are also referred to “remnant inventory.” You know the only other place that uses that term? Carpet stores. You can buy their remnant carpet for cheap, ‘cos it’s oddly shaped and they can’t sell it at full price. Yeah, that’s the way to grow a successful ad business!

What say you Pilgrims?

  • Ed

    Isn’t this technically referred to as an “Anti-Trust” law violation in the US?

    • I think you have to technically have some kind of strength in the industry, so no, not really. 😛

  • Ross Bradley

    The often used term “remnant inventory” takes on a whole new meaning when performance marketing (audience targeting and or, ‘user’ re-targeting), is central to the marketplace – being of an OPEN kind almost randomly providing impressions involving inventory from those same AOL, Yahoo & Microsoft . (And, many other partner publishers – including Google inventory).

    [“The ad pact will start at the end of 2011 and will not require exclusivity so each company is free to work with any ad network, even Google,” The Next Web notes. ]

    These clicks that are of a costlier nature (CPA or, CPV), and are designed to reach a marketer’s target audience or, an individual user (soley based on prior ‘user intent’ knowledge) and now, with reach across the entire marketplace. With publishers assured of much higher payments, from such.

    I’m of the opinion that the advantage of knowing ‘user intent’, not only on visitors to your own site (but keyword/s phrases or, visitors to competitor sites), becomes an ultimate in the re-targeting of users, across an entire (and soon to grow), marketplace. One that is independent, can offer global scale and already harvests Intent Data on 3 Billion Search Queries/day (Google/Yahoo) –