You can't say the Federal Trade Commission made a snap decision when it approvedGoogle's multi-billion dollar take-out of DoubleClick.
Today's 4-1 vote in favor of the deal caps an eight-month investigation that ultimately found, the FTC says, no threat to the competitive landscape; thus turning its back on the complaints lodged by (ironically) Microsoft , Yahoo and others.
"We have concluded that Google’s proposed acquisition of DoubleClick is unlikely to substantially lessen competition," a statement from the FTC reads this morning.
My first reaction was, what about all those privacy concerns? That aspect of the complaints against the deal didn't seem to get its due. But then I read the new initiative being proposed by the FTC.
The agency released a set of "behavioral advertising" guidelines so the industry can regulate itself. Behavioral advertising is the tracking of a consumer’s activities online--including the searches the consumer has conducted, the web pages visited, and the content viewed--in order to deliver advertising targeted to the individual consumer’s interests, says the FTC.
But it's the words "self-regulate" that might be the most important. Not only does Google get the OK on one part of the deal; but the FTC goes a step further by entrusting the company and the industry to keep an eye on itself--while they both keep a watchful eye on everything we're all doing online. It's a total win for Google.
And it comes at a great time for Google's shareholders. We learned from Yahoo's most recent earnings report, as dismal as it was, just how robust the display advertising business is. It was the brightest point in the earnings release.
And it's a part of the internet advertising sector that Google hasn't played in. And that's why this deal is so important. As good as Google's business has been, it now becomes the de facto leader in arguably the best segment of an already booming business. A segment that Google hasn't even played in.
This is a huge win for Google.
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