NEW YORK, Sept. 24, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- AOL Inc., Microsoft Corp. and Yahoo on Tuesday announced that they have each committed to converge around a common set of API specifications for the premium programmatic digital advertising sales channel. The goal is to make it easier for advertisers and agencies to procure premium digital advertising by reducing the friction in discovering, ordering and paying for premium inventory. (Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20000822/MSFTLOGO) The companies are committing to work together on a defined set of APIs that will better automate the process for buying premium digital advertising. The absence of this type of standardization and common specifications has historically inhibited the growth of the online media business. Although the programmatic buying model has helped address an industrywide need to buy inventory faster and more efficiently — through direct response and real-time bidded mechanisms — it has yet to address the challenges brand marketers and publishers face when seeking to predictably and seamlessly reach consumers across multiple devices via premium digital advertising offerings. AOL, Microsoft and Yahoo will make the API specifications available in the coming months. The companies encourage other publishers and ad technology vendors in the industry to adopt or adhere to the API specifications, which should enable ecosystem growth. "Microsoft, together with AOL and Yahoo, is committed to the growth of programmatic premium," said Rik van der Kooi, corporate vice president, Microsoft Advertising. "We see this approach as being both 'advertiser friendly' and 'publisher friendly' – something that will address the challenges and inefficiencies that make it hard to scale big brand buys on the internet. Ultimately, we believe this will serve as a catalyst to unlock pent-up demand for premium publisher offerings and help speed the migration of offline media spend to online." Previously, the buying and selling of premium ad offerings had been largely constrained by manual sales processes. The alignment around a set of API specifications will complement current direct sales channels and remove barriers for both advertisers wanting to buy and publishers wanting to sell programmatically.