Google’s $3.1 billion acquisition of DoubleClick was finally approved after an eight-month review by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The deal cannot go through just yet, however; Google awaits approval from the European Commission.
The FTC concluded that the deal would have no negative impact on competition. As for consumers’ objections about the potential for DoubleClick’s behavioral advertising market to violate consumer privacy, the Commission said the problem is not unique to the Google-DoubleClick combination.
The FTC determined Google’s acquisition of DoubleClick is just another in a series of similar combinations, including Yahoo’s acquisition of Right Media; AOL’s acquisition of Adtech AG and Tacoda; WPP Group’s acquisition of 24/7 Real Media; and Microsoft’s $6 billion acquisition of aQuantive and purchase of AdECN Inc.
But since the potential for privacy violations is endemic, the FTC simultaneously released a set of proposed principals that it hopes the advertising industry will adopt in a fit of self-regulation.
The proposed principals are included in a document that can be found online here.
“For us, privacy does not begin or end with our purchase of DoubleClick,” said Google CEO Eric Schmidt. “We have been protecting our users' privacy since our inception and will continue to innovate in how we safeguard their information and maintain their trust.”
Privacy concerns are clearly justified, however, as the recent flap over FaceBook’s Beacon advertising program proves.