- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 14, 2011

NEW YORK (AP) - Yahoo, AOL and Microsoft are joining up to sell each other’s advertising inventory, according to published reports.

Citing unnamed sources, the tech blog AllThingsD reported earlier Wednesday that executives from Yahoo Inc., AOL Inc. and Microsoft Corp. told Web publishers and ad buyers about the plan at a presentation on Tuesday.

The deal could help the companies slow the fast growth of Google and Facebook in the lucrative online display advertising market.

Under the plan, the companies will sell each other’s “Class 2 display” ad inventory, that is, ads they can’t sell themselves and would normally hand over to ad networks, the report said. By selling the ads on their own, the three companies will be able to get back some of the money that has ended up in the hands of the advertising networks.

Yahoo and AOL declined to confirm the report. A Microsoft representative did not immediately respond to messages for comment.

In a statement, however, Yahoo said it has “longstanding relationships” with AOL and Microsoft and will continue to work and compete with them in years to come.

AOL said it is fortunate to have long-standing relationships with a large number of premium publishers, including Yahoo and Microsoft.

“We’re excited to continue to explore opportunities to expand our relationships,” said spokeswoman Caroline Campbell in a statement, adding that the company will share more information “when it’s available.”

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