Google Makes More Announcements, As Microsoft Makes Anti-Trust Rumblings

Just chalk it up as another day in the land of Google.

Yesterday, the company announced that it will partner with Clear Channel Radio to sell a guaranteed portion of 30-second advertising inventory on more than 675 AM and FM radio stations. Google Audio Ads can target specific geographies and specific time slots, and Google said it will focus on advertisers who currently run ads online but do not run ads on radio.

The company also announced that Google AdSense for Audio is now supported by leading radio station systems BE, ENCO and VIERO.

Microsoft, reportedly joined by AT&T, meanwhile, is rallying to ask the Department of Justice to scrutinize the $3.1 billion Google/DoubleClick deal.

"This proposed acquisition raises serious competition and privacy concerns in that it gives the Google DoubleClick combination unprecedented control in the delivery of online advertising, and access to a huge amount of consumer information by tracking what customers do online," said Brad Smith, senior vice president and general counsel of Microsoft Corp., in an official statement. "We think this merger deserves close scrutiny from regulatory authorities to ensure a competitive online advertising market."

Industry watchers pooh-poohed the issue, and said Microsoft needs to focus on shoring up its capabilities rather than raising an issue that can backfire if only for the irony of a company synonymous with antitrust issues raising that very point.

"I don't think this rises to the level of any kind of antitrust discussion yet," said Greg Sterling, principal in Sterling Market Intelligence. "Microsoft is driving that propaganda."

Shar VanBoskirk, senior analyst for Forrester Research, said it's time for Microsoft to move on.

"I think Microsoft should let it go, and they should stop trying to chase Google and accept that they're in third place and do what they can to keep their existing customers loyal," she said. "Being in third place isn't so bad. Microsoft has a great set of customers, and it should focus on servicing them as well as possible."

The issue is sure to evolve today when Yahoo releases its first-quarter financial results. Stay tuned.

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