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Senators Press for Close Scrutiny of GoogleClick Deal

Urging it to redouble its scrutiny of the Google-DoubleClick deal out of concern for both competition and privacy

The Federal Trade Commission has heard from two US senators on the Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights subcommittee, chairman Herb Kohl (D) and ranking minority member Orrin Hatch (R), urging it to redouble its scrutiny of the Google-DoubleClick deal out of concern for both competition and privacy.

Not that they've taken a position or anything - they said - but the letter says, "Antitrust regulators need to be wary to guard against the creation of a powerful Internet conglomerate able to extend its market power in one market into adjacent markets to the detriment of competition and consumers."

This after last week when the European Commission said it was going to do a full-blown investigation of the proposed acquisition that will take until April.

No sooner did the letter surface than the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) started saying that the senators got it all wrong. They're thinking of the web advertising market as a static place forgetting that Google was only a "grad student science project a decade ago" and that - dismissing the barrier-to-entry argument - the free market will produce new contenders.

CEI also argues that Kohl and Hatch are overlooking "the merger's benefits to consumers."

A GoogleClick merger is supposed to "offer a vastly improved product to content-driven web sites. One of the greatest challenges on the web," it says, "is generating ad clicks, which are a crucial revenue source. With individualized information, Google-DoubleClick would be able to deliver tailored ads, better informing consumers of products they might actually purchase and giving fledgling web sites a shot at establishing a strong online presence."

A decision from the FTC is expected in mid-December.

The Sanford Bernstein folks have been dreaming up few back doors in the Alamo for Google in case it's denied the delights of commingling with DoubleClick.

It suggests Google joint venture with DoubleClick, build its own in-house ad exchange, give up on the ad exchange business or buy somebody else like maybe ValueClick.

Of all the options Bernstein like the DIY build-your-own approach best, figuring it would cost about $250 million to put in operation within two years.

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