Precursor Blog's Scott Cleland announced in a post yesterday he believes the FTC will block the Google-DoubleClick deal, this after a "detailed analysis" over the last several weeks.
He writes that the merger would "enable Google to dominate online advertising and dramatically increase the opportunity for market collusion and price manipulation in the market for consumer click data, ad-performance tools, ad-brokering, and ad-exchanges."
Uh, hello, did you see Yahoo!'s earnings announcement yesterday? You think Google doesn't already dominate the online advertising landscape?
But there's a significant difference between monopolistic practices and providing the best and most useful tool.
Google leads the online advertising marketplace because they are better than anyone else, not because they're holding a gun to anyone's head.
Though I have expressed concerns myself about the Google-DoubleClick deal here in this blog in the past, I'm not sure they aren't issues that can't be worked through. And just yesterday, Google went a long way towards alleviating some of my concern by finally shortening the life of their user cookies (2 years instead of 31!)
But to out of hand suggest that Google's ~60% share of the search and display advertising would "enable a horizontal merger to monopoly" fails to forget there are plenty of other options in the market.
Plenty of search engines, plenty of ad networks (search and display)...plenty of options.
Cleland also suggests that this merger "would harm users, advertisers, and content providers with higher prices and less choice."
No comment on the prices (that's what good negotiators are for...and yet again even there, there are options).
As for users, I've been a pretty happy Google camper since its inception, and I continue to happily user their services today.
Find me a better search engine, and I'm outta there so fast it'll make your head swim.
But the fact of the matter is, the switching costs for users is so low when it comes to a search engine, the burden of proof behind the need for FTC intervention should go up proportionally.
Success should not an antitrust suit make.
Antitrust law is intended to regulate business practices that limit free choice, competition, and economic efficiency (price fixing, monopoly, etc.)
Thus far, Google has simply been extremely successful.
The moment they cross the line into antitrust territory, I would be the first one to cry "foul." That time has far from yet come.
Perhaps it is TechCrunch's Duncan Riley who asks the key question about this report: "Who wants Google's DoubleClick acquisition to fail this badly?"
See if you can find an answer on Google to that one.[Read More]