Speculation on DoubleClick deal continues

Following last week’s rumor regarding Microsoft bidding to acquire DoubleClick, Google is rumored to be bidding, too.

Google must step in and make sure that it keeps 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 spokesman.

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

“Google’s main benefit [in buying DoubleClick] 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 attention, particularly relating to display ads.

“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.

However, 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,” he 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.

The 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.

However, not everyone agrees a DoubleClick buy is in Google’s best interest.

“I do not believe this makes sense for Google at all,” said Robert Murray, the new CEO of iProspect. “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. As such, I do not believe that Google will ultimately bid on DoubleClick.”

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