The European Commission, the same out-of-touch government agency that has been wasting Microsoft’s time and money for years, refused Tuesday to approve Google’s mega-billion dollar deal to buy DoubleClick, putting the entire deal on hold, possibly till March. The Commission is ordering a further review of the deal’s impact on the online advertising business, which will delay the $3.1 billion deal entirely until it is done, at the least.
Meanwhile, I keep getting PR emails from Performics, the SEO arm of DoubleClick that would be part of Google if this deal ever completed. They send me one press release about buying trends they’ve identified around the holiday shopping season, showing that the “Cyber Monday” crap we hear every year about the Monday after Thanksgiving is just inaccurate, with successive Mondays having far more shopping activity than “Cyber Monday”.
Apparently, the Mondays between Thanksgiving and Christmas are important, but successive Mondays are bigger than the first one. This year is a perfect storm, with an early Thanksgiving and Tuesday Christmas translating to five Mondays between the two holidays, more than we ever usually see, which could mean increased activity for online retailers above what is normally expected.
Performics also announced 52 new affiliate advertising clients in the third quarter, showing that Performics is growing strongly. I doubt Google would want to unload Performics once the deal is done, seeing how well it’s doing.
I know the Google/DoubleClick deal has just been assumed as an eventuality, but what if Microsoft actually succeeded at blocking it? What would be next for Google, and would DoubleClick survive all the upheaval intact? Right now, we’re mostly looking at sparring between the two companies, but if Microsoft f’s up Google’s megabillion dollar deal, it could be war.
UPDATE: Here’s Google’s David Drummond talking to Congress:
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, a regulator of competition in the country, said that it is beginning an informal inquiry into Google’s purchase of DoubleClick. The Commission is asking those in the industry to submit comments on how the move would affect the advertising industry in the country, specifically if it would lead to higher prices.
The inquiry will end on October 16 with a decision, though Google continues to face problems closing this deal in the United States. The ACCC is also investigating claims that Google’s search ads amount to misleading and deceptive conduct, by allowing advertising to appear as search results.
IAC has dumped DoubleClick as the ad provider for many of its web properties, like CitySearch, Evite and Match.com. The future Google subsidiary was replaced by future Microsoft subsidiary Atlas, itself a division of aQuantive, the ad firm Microsoft is in the process of acquiring for a bajillion dollars. As Erick Schonfeld says, Barry Diller picked his poison, deciding that if they had to use a competitor, they should help Microsoft and not market juggernaut Google.
Seriously, IAC should buy a major online ad firm. Google did, Microsoft did, Yahoo did, and IAC could stand to do the same.
Catching up: I had a crazy week, with me and my wife going on a short wedding anniversary vacation, one of my best friends getting married, and my aunt and her family moving forever to another continent. There’s a lot of stuff filling up the queue, so we’re going to go through it double time
Google Acquires Aerial Image Firm, ImageAmerica
Google bought another company, this time ImageAmerica, an aerial imagery company. ImageAmerica provided the high-res imagery of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, and can be used to provide high quality imagery of any area in a hurry, an excellent boon for Google Earth/Maps. They’ve got a “Beech Starship” aircraft that can get into an area quickly, get high, fly fast and with great stability, and get great images for Google to use.
Google Maps Now Shows Popular Searches
Google Maps has a new feature that shows the popular searches for a particular area. Search for a city, town, state, or whatever, and you’ll find out what people are searching for in that area. For example, I know that in my area, people are looking for:
new york hall of science: administration
st johns university
flushing meadow park
While popular searches in Manhattan are:
madison square garden
YouTube Antipiracy Tool Coming This September
Google is expected to finally release YouTube’s antipiracy system this September, 10 months after buying the company, and many months after getting sued by Viacom and watching competitors take similar major measures at stopping the widespread uploading of copyrighted material. The technology will fingerprint videos so it can recognize when a previously deemed infringing video is uploaded again, and will allow copyright holders to embed a digital fingerprint in videos so the system will never let them be uploaded.
This couldn’t come a moment too soon. Google Video, which shares some of the same infrastructure as YouTube (when watching YouTube videos, I’ve seen them streaming from video.google.com) and presumably will share the same antipiracy system, is a hotbed of piracy. My wife and I have gotten some movies still in theaters from Google Video, something we normally never bother with, because it’s too damn easy to find.
Google Using Community To Grow Indian Maps
Google has decided that the best way to get good maps of India is to ask the locals for help. They’ve sent out GPS kits to some Indians, asking for their assistance in creating more accurate maps of the area, comparing the multiple data points for verification. The program has done 50 cities, complete with driving directions, using the GPS and special software that allows users to literally draw the roads on top of the satellite imagery.
DoubleClick Running Illegal AdWords Ads
Looks like future Google unit DoubleClick has been running some AdWords campaigns that break the terms of service. DoubleClick is running ads on Google search targeted to the term “AdBrite”, a competing web advertising company, actually using the competitor’s trademarked term in the ad copy. While Google has been embroiled in lawsuits protecting the advertiser’s right to target trademarked terms, it clearly bans the use of those terms in the ad itself. Someone should tell DoubleClick.
The New York Times has an article about how Google’s New York offices are in the same building as DoubleClick’s, resulting in a lot of DoubleClick employees who are very well aware that they could have coworkers on another floor. More importantly, those coworkers have free food, and they aren’t going to wait for Google’s acquisition of DoubleClick to be approved to enjoy it.
At least three times so far, Google security has escorted DoubleClick employees up the back stairs, this despite Google normally having a policy against “pre-merger snacking”. The DoubleClickers load up on a week’s worth of desserts and enjoy the view, and wait for their next visit to do it all over again. They’re even re-arranging their schedules, moving pizza day away from Google day, so they don’t have any distractions.
The Federal Trade Commission said last week it is conducting an antitrust review of Google’s acquisition of DoubleClick. The FTC’s decision no doubt was spurred by “concerned” competitors of Google, who are worried that the deal will make it very hard for them to compete. Google’s senior corporate counsel Don Harrison brushed it off, saying that such an inquiry is just routine, though no is investigating Microsoft purchase of aQuantive for almost twice as much.