Speculation surrounding DoubleClick bidding war continues

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Following last week's rumor regarding Microsoft bidding to acquire DoubleClick, Internet giant Google is now rumored to be bidding for the online advertising services provider.

Google must now step in and make sure they keep Microsoft out of the DoubleClick buy at all costs, said Mark Simon, vice president of industry relations for Did-it Search Marketing, New York.

"We do not comment on market rumor or speculation," said Jon Murchinson, a Google spokesperson.

Although Google is not ready to talk about the bidding war, people in the industry have a lot to say.

"Google's main benefit is defensive," Mr. Simon said. "They keep MSN out and protect its relationship with AOL. If Microsoft wins, then it will be serving ads through DoubleClick in AOL properties."

The rumored presence of Google in the race for DoubleClick has gotten a lot of people's attention.

"Publishers are increasingly focused on retaining as much control as possible in the display advertising space, rather than ceding control to a 'channel master,' such as has emerged in search," said Ben Crain, vice president of media at Rapt Inc., San Francisco.

If Google were to acquire DoubleClick, its position as the top display-advertising provider would be far from stable, Mr. Crain said.

"I think about how quickly the industry has responded to the concerns over Google's ownership of YouTube, as seen in Viacom's choice of Joost and the announced development of a competing solution by News Corp., NBCU and AOL," Mr. Crain said. "The major media companies are a resourceful bunch, and if they do perceive any kind of unwelcome encroachment, they will respond."

Mr. Crain believes this would be a strategic investment for Microsoft and it would give it a clear market lead over Google in display advertising.

An acquisition of DoubleClick by either company would incline others in the market to do business with them, given the reach and scale that comes along with such an acquisition. At the same time, others might be willing given competitive concerns and may therefore explore other options.

There are mixed emotions about the supposed deal.

"I do not believe this makes sense for Google at all," said Robert Murray, president of iProspect. "Some people would argue that Google would do this as a defensive measure against Microsoft, but I disagree.

"Except for the YouTube acquisition - which was more of a platform than a technology - Google has only acquired early stage technologies and rolled them into the overall platform," he said. "As such, I do not believe that Google will ultimately bid on DoubleClick."

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