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Just An Online Minute... Google-DoubleClick Deal Finally Done

Google this morning closed on its $3.1 billion acquisition of DoubleClick just hours after EU antitrust regulators cleared the deal without imposing any conditions.

The company intends to use DoubleClick's display ad platform to "bring to market advances in technology and infrastructure that will dramatically improve the effectiveness, measurability and performance of digital media for publishers, advertisers and agencies, while improving the relevance of advertising for users," CEO Eric Schmidt said in a statement.

In approving the deal, the European regulators wrote that the merger posed no antitrust threat. "The Commission's in-depth market investigation found 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," wrote the European Commission.

The Federal Trade Commission cleared the deal late last year in a 4-1 vote.

The merger is expected to give Google an immediate boost in the growing display ad market -- which will reach $28.6 billion by 2010, according to J.P. Morgan

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The deal also appears to give Google access to a wealth of information about users' Web-surfing history that could be used to target ads to them. In a report issued this morning, J.P. Morgan predicts that Google will leverage DoubleClick's data to command increased rates. "Google will now have behavioral data from search, email, video, and web usage on network sites," J.P. Morgan stated. "We believe this will allow the company to provide much better ad-targeting, leading to increased CPMs on DoubleClick sites."

But Google won't necessarily be able to use this trove of behavioral data. Privacy advocates are pressing hard to prevent companies from compiling detailed profiles of users without their permission. And the European authorities seem to be listening. Last month, European regulators said they consider IP addresses personal data, subject to privacy laws -- which means that Google might not get as much out of this deal as it hopes to.

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