In a bid to compete effectively against Google and Facebook, it seemed the best strategy was one of partnership. AOL, Yahoo, and Microsoft have agreed to work together to sell their unsold ad inventory. The article asks a good question, "The idea may seem a bit redundant, considering that all three already have massive reach—plus, if this is inventory they can’t sell on their own, why create a larger pool? Still, with Google and Facebook cutting into the portals’ traditional hold on display, this may be an imperfect answer to a challenging problem for all three."
Google and Facebook have each grown because they have made their sites compelling and valuable to use, and use frequently. As the dominate search engine and social network site, each essentially captures a huge audience making their ad sales efforts successful. In a world where content is king, the challenge for the others is to make their content sites equally as necessary and valuable to the user. With that comes eyeballs and more sold inventory at hopefully higher prices.
It may sound like a herculean task, but it is doable. Users are fickle and their tastes and interests change. New technologies and new content partnerships will continue to shape and change the landscape. No one stays on top forever. Companies stumble and get caught up with protecting rather than innovating. For AOL, Yahoo, and Microsoft, there is no time like today to get started.