EU Allows Google, DoubleClick Merger
The process took longer than Google would have liked, but ultimately the European Union agreed with Google’s position that the DoubleClick deal would merge complementary ad businesses.
Let the handwringing at Microsoft HQ commence. The deal they publicly and vociferously opposed became reality, as European competition regulators decided to give Google and DoubleClick the go-ahead with their $3.1 billion merger.
“The Commission also analysed the potential effects of non-horizontal relationships between Google and DoubleClick following concerns raised by third parties in the course of the market investigation,” the EU said in a statement.
“These relationships concern DoubleClick’s market position in ad serving, where Google, by controlling DoubleClick’s tools, could allegedly raise the cost of ad serving for rival intermediaries,” the statement continued. “The merged entity would not have the ability to engage in strategies aimed at marginalizing Google’s competitors, mainly because of the presence of credible ad serving alternatives to which customers (publishers/advertisers/ad networks) can switch, in particular vertically integrated companies such as Microsoft, Yahoo! and AOL.
The Center for Digital Democracy criticized the EU for following the FTC’s “flawed analysis” of the online ad market. “By failing to impose safeguards, EC regulators have helped strengthen a growing digital colossus that will now be in a dominant position to shape much of the global future of the Internet and other online media,” said CDD executive director, Jeff Chester.
“EU and US antitrust regulators have also perversely set the stage for Microsoft’s goal of acquiring Yahoo, furthering more concentration of control in the new media sector,” he continued. “By permitting Google to dramatically grow in clout, regulators will have to likely permit the further growth of a number 2 competitor to Google – which will be Microsoft.”