Read on the Microsoft Advertising Blog

Today, at Advertising Week here in New York, we are thrilled to come together with Yahoo! and AOL to announce a joint agreement to use a common set of APIs for programmatic direct digital advertising sales. This announcement declares the companies’ mutual commitment to sell our respective premium offerings in a way that will make buying faster and easier for agencies and marketers.

Our collective agreement to converge on a set of API specifications is critical to accelerate adoption of the premium programmatic channel by agencies, advertisers, technology companies and publishers alike. With these specifications we are, for the first time, making premium ad offerings available programmatically. We welcome other industry players to adopt these API specifications and to embrace this opportunity with us.

We are aggressively investing in programmatic direct offerings in response to the industry’s need for efficiency and scalability in transacting digital media. Today, both buyers and sellers feel the pain associated with the friction-filled, manually-intensive process of buying digital advertising. By enabling API access to our premium offerings, we’re supporting increased automation of the transactions, thereby freeing up the people involved to focus on creating value, rather than managing process.

In the first phase of enabling programmatic direct sales, we are primarily focused on streamlining order and post-sale workflow, including the selection of ad offerings, creation of insertion orders, and management of campaigns and creatives. In the future, we envision working with AOL, Yahoo!, and others in the industry, to extend premium programmatic to include support for media planning processes as well.

As part of this announcement, we are also outlining the details of Microsoft’s go-to-market approach for our programmatic direct offerings. Starting in Q1 2014, we will launch a pilot program in the US and invite a select group of agency and technology providers to participate. The US Pilot will launch with a subset of our premium reserved display ad offerings. Over time, we will broaden and deepen the product set exposed through our APIs to include additional formats, both browser and application-based, across multiple devices.

We are excited to announce that both MediaMath ( and isocket ( will join in this pilot, with other participants soon to follow.

MediaMath develops digital marketing technology and offers deep industry expertise, enabling marketers to connect with consumers individually and at scale across the entirety of the world's digital media. Here is what they had to say about programmatic direct:

“MediaMath is focused on empowering the marketing professional to be more effective and efficient," said Greg Williams, Co-Founder, senior vice president OPEN Partnerships for MediaMath. "This means providing our customers with solutions that enable  seamless workflow and optimization capabilities as well as operational efficiencies that can enable 100% of media to be transacted programmatically, even on a guaranteed basis.  Our commitment to advancing the industry's adoption of programmatic guaranteed is evidenced by the work we are doing with Microsoft and we applaud their commitment to transforming the digital ecosystem.”

isocket is one of the first programmatic direct platforms focused on automating the process of buying and selling high quality, guaranteed ad campaigns for advertisers and publishers. Here is what they had to say:

"Bringing more technology into the overly analog direct sales process was not only inevitable, it was sorely needed. RTB and private exchanges were a great step forward, but new and different technology was needed for the other 70% of the market – the directly sold, guaranteed, high quality inventory that has been the mainstay of super-premium publishers like Microsoft, Yahoo!, and AOL." said John Ramey, Founder & CEO of isocket. "Publishers can now embrace the automation without worrying about historical problems like price erosion, channel conflict, and lack of control."

Over time, we will support programmatic direct offerings in global markets enabled by multiple strategic technology providers. Our approach, across all markets, is to enable the ecosystem by integrating with the platforms our advertisers and agencies choose to leverage. Toward this end, we invite our advertiser and agency colleagues to work with us to identify which solutions we should prioritize. As we develop our roadmap, we will communicate more specifics regarding market expansion and technology integrations.

Today’s announcement is an important step forward in an exciting journey. Along with others in the industry, we at Microsoft share a compelling vision in which programmatic direct offerings drive greater scale and efficiency for media buying across premium publishers. To achieve this vision requires alignment on standards, such as we are announcing with Yahoo! and AOL, and it requires integration by buy-side platforms such as isocket and MediaMath. Over the coming months, we are committed to building upon this foundation, and working with our colleagues across the media and ad tech community who want to join the effort and make the vision a reality.

For more information please review the official release located here.