Yahoo’s rivals, however, have made bigger splashes. In September, AOL gathered some 800 media buyers together for a "programmatic upfront" and promised to put its direct-sold inventory available on automated platforms for the first time starting early next year. While AOL didn’t specify how much inventory there was or the available inventory’s value, it certainly caught buyers’ attention with its lavish presentation that implied the amount offered for programmatic would be substantial.
That's not to say that Yahoo has been indifferent to programmatic. "Yahoo has some of the highest valued digital ad inventory available, and we’re finding new ways to streamline the buying process so that our advertisers can be as efficient as possible," Buchheim said. "We’ve been very clear that programmatic – both real-time and guaranteed – is a focus for Yahoo. You will continue to see more innovation from Yahoo in this area because it provides great value for the brands, agencies and partners we work with."
In July, after Marissa Mayer told analysts during an earnings call that the company would make more of an investment in ad tech, the company said it was acquiring small mobile-ad targeter and data-management software startup AdMovate.
The same week AOL had been hyping its programmatic spectacle, it issued a smaller joint announcement with Microsoft's MSN and Yahoo, saying the three would adhere to the same standard principles for automating reserved inventory. At the time, Buchheim told AdAge that certain "premium" placements, such as the Yahoo Homepage Takeover unit, would "not be available through [an automated system] anytime soon."
Rather than trying to challenge AOL and Google, Yahoo's deal with DoubleClick Bid Manager, MediaMath and The Trading Desk should primarily help it appeal to agencies and their trading desks. Among the agencies that have signed on to Yahoo's DSP deal are Omnicom trading desk Accuen, Interpublic Group's Magna Global, WPP Group's Neo@Ogilvy, Aegis' Amnet and Merkle.