Google's DoubleClick deal under scrutiny

Google seeking European and American approval for its £1.5 billion takeover of online ad firm DoubleClick.

Google has filed for European permission for its $3.1 billion (1.5 billion) takeover of DoubleClick, raising questions about the massive company's influence in online advertising.

As IT PRO reported, Google successfully bid for DoubleClick in April. Founded in 1996 and a survivor of the dot com bubble-burst, the firm provides display ads for sites all across the web, as well as ad revenue software. If Google's purchase is completed, it would provide them with access to DoubleClick's advertisement software as well as a foot in the door with their high profile web clients.

The European Commission (EC) will review the intricacies of the proposed merger, originally announced in April, and has set a deadline of October 26 to approve the deal, extend the research a further two weeks or unleash a thorough four month investigation. The Commission has begun by sending customers and competitors questionnaires to gauge their reaction to the deal.

Google will be forced to answer many of the same questions for the American Senate Judiciary subcommittee on antitrust when it convenes on September 27 to take a closer look at the merger. An ongoing investigation by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) combined with attacks from private groups has followed the take over since it began nearly six months ago. The FTC has been investigating whether the marriage of Google and DoubleClick will pose a threat to the swiftly diminishing competition of online commercial marketing.

Among those private groups interested in the Senate's questioning is Microsoft, which will be sending one of their own executives, general counsel Brad Smith, to testify and are expected to argue that the deal raises competition and privacy issues. The antitrust rulings come on the heels of Microsoft's own antitrust ruling. Last week, the EU upheld its original 2004 decision that the software giant had abused its position of market dominance.

Microsoft has also been working behind the scenes attempting to block the multi-billion purchase, the Wall Street Journal reported, saying the firm tried to persuade internet companies, advertisers and regulators to oppose Google's acquisition. Through the use of public relations firm Burson-Marsteller, retained by Microsoft, 100 companies and organisations were warned that the merger would only further bolster the already domineering presence Google holds on the online marketplace.

Microsoft is not the deal's only big-name opponent. IT PRO reported widespread concern among its rivals in April. Yahoo released a statement requesting an in-depth review of the case that it believes "raises important questions about the future of internet advertising".

"These questions warrant an in-depth debate and review by a broad range of internet publishers, advertisers, service providers, and governments in Europe and elsewhere," said Toby Coppel, managing director of Yahoo Europe, in a statement at the time.

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