Google-Doubleclick deal under scrutiny

US lawmakers plan to hold hearings over Google's proposed purchase of Web advertising supplier DoubleClick.

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By  Reuters Published  July 19, 2007

Lawmakers in Congress plan to hold hearings to air concerns about Google's proposed acquisition of Web advertising supplier DoubleClick.

The US Senate's antitrust subcommittee is planning a hearing this autumn to delve into how the combination of the companies will affect competition in the market for Internet advertising, a source familiar with the plans said on Wednesday.

Critics say that the deal will give Google a stranglehold over the Internet advertising market.

The panel is expected to ask executives from Google, as well as Microsoft and Yahoo! to appear, the source said.

In addition, the Wall Street Journal reported that a House Commerce subcommittee is also planning a hearing on the Google-Doubleclick deal and would focus on privacy concerns.

Google issued a statement saying company officials are "confident that upon further review the Federal Trade Commission will conclude that this acquisition is good for both competition and privacy and should be approved."

"Numerous independent analysts and academics have determined that the online advertising industry is a dynamic and evolving space, and that rich competition in this industry will bring more relevant ads to consumers and more choices for advertisers and website publishers," Google said in the statement.

The purchase would get Google further into the market for Web display ads, which includes richer graphic and online banner ads for corporate brands. DoubleClick offers a digital marketplace that connects ad agencies, marketers and Web site publishers.

In May, authorities at the Federal Trade Commission requested additional information about the $3.1 billion deal, a move that typically means the agency has concluded a deal warrants an in-depth antitrust review.

Microsoft and other Google rivals, such as AT&T have urged antitrust officials to closely scrutinise the combination, saying it could give Google too much control over online advertising.

Deals combining large competing companies are investigated by U.S. antitrust authorities to determine whether they would hobble competition and lead to higher prices.

Although U.S. lawmakers sometimes hold hearings to air concerns about large deals, they have no direct say in whether the transactions are ultimately approved.

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