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Microsoft and Yahoo are loosening their stranglehold on their premium display inventory.

MediaMath has set up a buying program that includes guaranteed direct buys in a programmatic environment. The program is enabled through partnerships with publishers Yahoo and Microsoft, along with technology partners Shiny Ads, iSocket and Yieldex.

The partnership represents the latest industry attempt to execute guaranteed deals in programmatic.

“Traditionally this inventory that’s available isn’t in the RTB (real-time bidding) or open auction markets,” said Greg Williams, SVP of MediaMath's OPEN Partnership program (an initiative designed to educate marketers about programmatic). “We’ve built out the infrastructure and capabilities for our clients to make guaranteed direct buys in a programmatic environment.”

The hook-ups with Shiny Ads, iSocket and Yieldex (Williams mentioned Adslot as another potential partner) are key to making this work. The three tech companies have tools designed to link premium display inventory with buyers and sellers. Generally, these tools add a sales automation component to simplify the invoicing process. This is a little different from the partnerships MediaMath normally has, which generally involve plug-ins to supply-side platforms (SSPs) or ad exchanges.

So Shiny Ads, iSocket and Yieldex each add an additional technology layer to MediaMath’s buying platform, designed to enable the RTB purchase of premium inventory.

The program points to a marketwide loosening of premium inventory – inventory that many publishers are traditionally reluctant to release into an RTB environment. In recent months, Yahoo in particular has slowly made some of its guaranteed inventory available to DSPs.

So why the shift from certain publishers?

“It’s the natural evolution in the programmatic shift and they see opportunities being first movers in this area,” Williams said. He alluded to a joint agreement last September in which AOL, Microsoft and Yahoo agreed to develop standard APIs and integration points to enable programmatic buying of premium inventory (both MediaMath and iSocket participated in the pilot). Those three publishers have traditionally been more willing to work in the programmatic space. For instance, back in 2011, they formed a pact around non-guaranteed inventory.

But when it comes to guaranteed inventory, Williams emphasized most difficulties stem not from technical challenges, but from organizational ones.

“Making sure that everyone feels comfortable with the CPMs being proposed, the functionality works correctly so you can get an avail back in the right way, and working with the publishers to make sure they’re comfortable with how they’d manage channel conflict if they have any, or getting them past that,” he explained. “The business realities make this difficult, but all of that can be overcome with focusing on driving innovation.”

MediaMath’s partnerships are centered around display advertising, but Williams said the company intends to add mobile and video inventory to the mix.

“We fully intend to come back and work with our partners after launch and integrate more mobile and video into this,” he said. “We have a strategic focus on growing mobile. In terms of our overall platform, it represents 20% of our overall buying.”

Video and social currently occupy “a smaller portion,” but Williams said it’s “growing quickly.”