States Join Feds In Vetting Google, Yahoo Deal

    July 14, 2008
    WebProNews Staff

Search advertising by Google, search results by Yahoo, and a lot of scrutiny at the federal level received another layer of interest, this time from state governments.

Some comments, some whispers, emanated from the seats of power in around a dozen states. Concerns exist within those legislatures that the power of Google connected with online advertising may be a little too much to progress without additional scrutiny.

The Washington Post said people like Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, no stranger to the front page, asked for documents and information concerning the deal. Yahoo’s search results become a vehicle for Google’s lucrative contextual advertising.

That extends Google’s search advertising universe beyond its own search engine, a consolidation that likely gives Google’s ad clients exposure to 80 percent or more of US searchers. Blumenthal’s office already sent out subpoenas to both companies. “It could be hugely anti-competitive,” he said.

The Post noted Florida and at least two other states made similar requests of the two Internet firms. A spokesperson for Florida AG Bill McCollum said in the report they are reviewing the deal in conjunction with other states.

Google and Yahoo believe that as a business deal, one which Google characterized as similar to Toyota providing General Motors with hybrid engine technology, the arrangement should pass scrutiny without difficulties. In politics, however, such a business deal could be the the cause celebre for someone, like an attorney general, and the case may receive even more attention than it might merit.