Google Confident Of OK On DoubleClick Deal

Despite opposition from privacy advocates, lobbying by competitors like Microsoft, and concern from the AAAA and the ANA, as well as scrutiny from European and U.S. regulators, Google is confident that its proposed $3.1 billion acquisition of DoubleClick will be approved.

"Both of the antitrust authorities that we've dealt with say that they're applying standard economic analysis," said Hal Varian, Google's chief economist, in an interview with the AP. "On the basis of conventional economic analysis, we think the deal should go right through."

Varian's comments echoed Google CEO Eric Schmidt's remarks early last week that the deal seemed to be "in good shape" when it came to clearing FTC and EU hurdles.

On Friday, the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) cautioned the European Commission to examine the deal further--in a letter that expressed concern about whether it would reduce competition in Internet advertising overall.

The WFA represents advertisers that account for nearly 90% of the global marketing economy (and 40 of the world's top 100 marketers), and the organization pressed the EC to consider the deal in light of the mass consolidation and other changes in the online ad market.



"Internet advertisers have benefited from innovation generated, in part, by intense competition," said Stephan Loerke, managing director, WFA. "Global advertisers are keen to see this competitive marketplace maintained."

Loerke noted that Microsoft's $6 billion acquisition of aQuantive and WPP's purchase of 24/7 Real Media could not be overlooked as examples of a shrinking group of players that control the ad networks, servers and other vital Web advertising tech providers.

To eliminate antitrust concerns, the EU can ask companies to consider selling off units or alter their forward-moving plans--and earlier this week, Google acquiesced--although the search giant gave no specific details beyond saying it had "committed to the European Commission that we will keep certain DoubleClick business practices unchanged."

Later this week, the FTC is scheduled to conduct a two-day "town hall" meeting on behavioral targeting and consumer privacy issues.

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