European Commission Approves Google Acquisition of DoubleClick
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Earlier today the European Commission issued a press release announcing their clearance of Google's proposed acquisition of DoubleClick.
This investigation, which began in November 2007, concluded that "Google and DoubleClick were not exerting major competitive constraints on each other's activities and could, therefore, not be considered as competitors at the moment."
The release went on to say that even if DoubleClick could become an effective competitor in "online intermediation services," that it was "likely that other competitors would continue to exert sufficient competitive pressure after the merger."
There had been significant concern about the potential effects of "non-horizontal relationships" between Google and DoubleClick, where concerns that DoubleClick's market position in ad serving could be misappropriated by Google and used to help raise the cost of ad delivery for DoubleClick competitors.
The Commission seemed to conclude that the merged entity would not have such an ability, as there were plenty of viable ad serving alternatives in the market, although none, including Microsoft and Yahoo, who also have ad display businesses whose search businesses have market share even close to that of Google's.
So what does this news bode for marketers?
Synergy in online advertising, plain and simple.
It was only yesterday that I heard here at SXSW an Avenue A/Razorfish (now owned by Microsoft) executive testify to the fact that a combination of search and display advertising is one of the most potent e-marketing combinations available today.
As Google starts to combine the contextual relevance of its search advertising with the in-your-face potency of display and skyscraper ads, the company's short-term stock doldrums could evolve into a revenue bonanza, with success enjoyed by both Google and its clients (of which IBM is one).
But as much as I enjoy the idea of such a bonanza that provides win-win-win for Google, its customers, and its clients, the key question will be whether or not the Chinese wall that has traditionally kept the search and display ad technologies apart and separate could evolve into a revolving GoogleClick door.
If so, it would be awfully tempting down the road to leverage that coziness for unfair market advantage.
I hope the EC was correct in its evaluation, but suddenly I find myself in the rare and odd position of rooting for Microsoft and its successful integration of the Aquantive merger.
Competition is good for everyone. And after reading yesterday's New York Times story entitled "To Aim Ads, Web Is Keeping Closer Eye On You," I'm more convinced than ever that Web advertising delivery ought to be a little like a visit to the Baskin-Robbins ice cream store:
Even if I typically order chocolate, it's sure nice to know I have the choice to get two scoops of Rocky Road when I want them, and not be forced to pay a premium for the privilege when doing so.
Only time...and a few billion more clicks...will tell.