Yesterday's Wall Street Journal report that an Internet biggie, most likely Microsoft, may soon acquire the ad-serving technology provider DoubleClick sparked a widespread debate across the Web.
The general consensus: "It could mean a lot of things," as Forrester Research analyst Shar VanBoskirk tells ClickZ.
For now the frontrunner is Microsoft's MSN, which has struggled
mightily since its inception to be as effective as its Web competitors--although Google can swoop in and steal deals late in the game. Double Click is currently owned by Hellman & Friedman, which has
offloaded its email business since the private-equity firm purchased the company. Morgan Stanley is now helping the group explore a sale; it reportedly wants $2 billion--double what it paid in 2005.
If DoubleClick is sold to a Web giant, its competitors may be forced to leave the ad-server for another company, says VanBoskirk. Microsoft might not want its new property working with AOL, for example, which deploys DoubleClick's ad management program across AOL Media Networks. For AOL and other big publishers, they may not want a competitor having access to their private data. DoubleClick has cookie data on everyone.