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FTC Greenlights Google-AdMob Deal

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the this-gps-location-brought-to-you-by dept.

Advertising 42

coondoggie writes "The Federal Trade Commission today said it closed the investigation of the proposed $750 million Google acquisition of mobile advertising network company AdMob. The FTC said that while the combination of the two leading mobile advertising networks raised serious antitrust issues, the agency's concerns ultimately were overshadowed by recent developments in the market, most notably a move by Apple to launch its own, competing mobile ad network."

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Hey lets let em all engage in antitrust (1)

gjyoung (320540) | more than 4 years ago | (#32301894)

I mean why have the laws if everyone is doing it anyway?

Re:Hey lets let em all engage in antitrust (2, Insightful)

Sarten-X (1102295) | more than 4 years ago | (#32301902)

If everyone is doing it in the same market, then it's not a monopoly, and not a problem.

Re:Hey lets let em all engage in antitrust (1)

DarkKnightRadick (268025) | more than 4 years ago | (#32301926)

It seems to me, though, that there is no merger/acquisition that the government won't approve if it's Google. Almost the complete opposite of MS.

Re:Hey lets let em all engage in antitrust (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#32301998)

It isn't all that inconsistent. An advertising network with a few dozen advertisers and a few dozen content providers is probably viable. A consumer operating system with a few thousand users is probably a joke.

Re:Hey lets let em all engage in antitrust (3, Interesting)

DarkKnightRadick (268025) | more than 4 years ago | (#32302070)

It isn't all that inconsistent. An advertising network with a few dozen advertisers and a few dozen content providers is probably viable.

Agreed whole-heartedly, but Google already has AdSense and Doubleclick.net I don't see why they can't just branch out without buying a competitor. Are they afraid of the competition?

A consumer operating system with a few thousand users is probably a joke.

I could insert jokes, but I think my first comment (the GP in this case) is going to get modded down pretty quickly as it is. I just want to say I think that comparison is apples and oranges.

A more appropriate one would be where MS buys up work-a-like competition just to take them out of the game (and grab their patent portfolios) in order to establish a monopoly. Sort of similar to what it looks like Google is trying to do, except in the web space and not the desktop space. For some reason MS wants to play in both spaces, too; that is neither here nor there, though.

This is how I see it, to be less confusing (I hope):

Google is dominating the web space, others are trying to play catch-up (which is pathetic for a portal like Yahoo which has been around longer). MS is also trying to do the same, but also be dominant in the desktop space too. The only competition Google offers there is Docs and Wave.

Where as MS is dominating the desktop space and doing so by attempting to establish (again) a trust/monopoly in every part of the market. It has the money to make a good run at it. Right now it's skirting the law (and I'd be willing to bet they are lobbying hard to get the law changed).

Every purchase Google makes to make itself more dominant in the web market is pretty much approved, despite the lowering of competition and raising the bar to entry for start-ups. Exactly the same thing MS has been doing for what, almost 3 decades now (and possibly longer)? So why is Google getting special treatment? Because they have a motto that says "Do no evil?"(TM)? Bah, I say. Either the rules are equally applied to all, or they are completely removed from the game. Period.

Re:Hey lets let em all engage in antitrust (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#32302134)

What I was getting at is that it isn't so clear that Google can actually raise the bar for new competitors.

Re:Hey lets let em all engage in antitrust (1)

DarkKnightRadick (268025) | more than 4 years ago | (#32302486)

Are you kidding me? They have MS style weight in the web market.

Re:Hey lets let em all engage in antitrust (1)

brainboyz (114458) | more than 4 years ago | (#32302742)

Exactly, the bar is already so high it can't get much higher.

Re:Hey lets let em all engage in antitrust (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 4 years ago | (#32302764)

Are you kidding me? They have MS style weight in the web market.

No, they don't. In the thing they dominate -- online searches (which isn't a market, because its not something that is sold) -- their share, while substantial at ~70%, isn't as great as Microsoft's desktop OS share (which is a market).

As far as markets, they have a majority of search advertising (but, again, substantially less than Microsoft has very desktop OSes), a large minority of online advertising, a large minority of mobile advertising, and a tiny fraction of total advertising. I think there is a good case to be made that different advertising forms are true substitutes and that the relevant market from an antitrust perspective is total advertising, but even if its not, there is no market they dominate in anything like the way Microsoft dominates the desktop OS or Office Suite markets.

Re:Hey lets let em all engage in antitrust (1)

ooshna (1654125) | more than 4 years ago | (#32303218)

What about the market for online advertising? Isn't that what this is all about?

Re:Hey lets let em all engage in antitrust (1)

Baloo Uriza (1582831) | more than 4 years ago | (#32302154)

Agreed whole-heartedly, but Google already has AdSense and Doubleclick.net I don't see why they can't just branch out without buying a competitor. Are they afraid of the competition?

Isn't all business?

Re:Hey lets let em all engage in antitrust (1)

DarkKnightRadick (268025) | more than 4 years ago | (#32302510)

I guess. I would I say I personally welcome it, but I can't even find work right now, much less run my own business. *shrugs*

Re:Hey lets let em all engage in antitrust (1)

Baloo Uriza (1582831) | more than 4 years ago | (#32302606)

No doubt, though this kind of situation is when it's usually easiest to become self-employed.

Re:Hey lets let em all engage in antitrust (1)

DarkKnightRadick (268025) | more than 4 years ago | (#32302642)

If I had the money to further my skills to where they need to be NOW, I wouldn't have a problem. As a web designer, I'm about 5 years behind the times and without a major influx of books, at the very least, I'll probably stay there for the foreseeable future. Heck, getting used to xhtml (I spent relatively little time with HTML4.01 before hitting XHTML) was difficult enough, now I have HTML5? Ugh, I almost don't want to bother with it.

And don't get me started with ADA requirements and the like. It's enough to drive me bonkers. I just want to build nice, simple sites that look, work, and act the same across all platforms and browsers. Unfortunately the browser makers keep implementing their own garbage (anyone remember glow?) *gets off soapbox and goes to bed*

Re:Hey lets let em all engage in antitrust (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 4 years ago | (#32302264)

A consumer operating system with a few thousand users is probably a joke.

It depends on your definition of "consumer".

Re:Hey lets let em all engage in antitrust (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32302542)

Not sure what your making a stab at, but if its android, that OS actually has the second highest share of the market, with the first being blackberry. iPhone is third.

Re:Hey lets let em all engage in antitrust (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#32304138)

I wasn't making a stab at anything. A small business can likely viably compete with Google in internet advertising. A small business could not compete against Microsoft in (general purpose) computer operating systems.

Re:Hey lets let em all engage in antitrust (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 4 years ago | (#32302258)

It seems to me, though, that there is no merger/acquisition that the government won't approve if it's Google.

What was the last "merger/acquisition" that this corporatist government didn't approve?

Re:Hey lets let em all engage in antitrust (1)

DarkKnightRadick (268025) | more than 4 years ago | (#32302472)

good point.

Re:Hey lets let em all engage in antitrust (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 4 years ago | (#32302652)

It seems to me, though, that there is no merger/acquisition that the government won't approve if it's Google.

There are very few mergers/acquisitions that the government even investigates for antitrust concerns, no matter who is involved, and even fewer that they reject.

So Google's not at all special in that regard.

Almost the complete opposite of MS.

How so? Microsoft buys companies all the time without the government blocking them.

Re:Hey lets let em all engage in antitrust (2, Insightful)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | more than 4 years ago | (#32302396)

It depends on how you define the market. If the market in question is "advertising" or even "online advertising" (as opposed to "mobile advertising" as is the case here) then it is absolutely clear that google does not have anything like a monopoly. The narrower your definition of a market the more monopolies you can find. What's so special about having a dominant position in mobile advertising that every other form of advertising out there would not be considered to be in competition with you?

Re:Hey lets let em all engage in antitrust (1)

DarkKnightRadick (268025) | more than 4 years ago | (#32302526)

To be honest, I never even thought there was a market for mobile advertising. Except on the smart-phones, the screen real estate is too precious to give over to ads. Content is more important, and if it's on a mobile I'm more willing to pay for it than if I am on a netbook on up.

Re:Hey lets let em all engage in antitrust (1)

Drakonik (1193977) | more than 4 years ago | (#32302890)

Content is more important to you. To the companies providing the content, however, money made off your intake of the content is worth the sacrifice of screen real estate.

Re:Hey lets let em all engage in antitrust (1)

DarkKnightRadick (268025) | more than 4 years ago | (#32304930)

must be why I don't bother with mobile sites that have inline advertising.

Greedy Apple (1)

AardvarkCelery (600124) | more than 4 years ago | (#32301946)

I'll bet the people at Apple are kicking themselves now for jumping into the ad market so soon. Had they been less greedy, it would have held their big competitor at bay to some extent.

Re:Greedy Apple (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32302018)

Obligatory XKCD [goatkcd.com]

Re:Greedy Apple (1)

Anpheus (908711) | more than 4 years ago | (#32302028)

What do you mean bar? The iPhone developer agreement will prohibit developers from using any advertising or analytics service other than Apple, and it's incredibly unlikely Apple will make their service available to Android, Windows Mobile/Phone, Symbian, BlackBerry, etc.

The i* platform is all about creating illusory markets. They aren't really markets in that Apple will always win on the i* platform, and if some particular service becomes popular, for example, a marketplace for in-app purchases, they will create their own or extend their own marketplace and disallow developers from using any alternatives.

Re:Greedy Apple (1)

jo_ham (604554) | more than 4 years ago | (#32302094)

[citation needed]

There is no evidence that Apple will stop developers rolling their own ad services (as they are currently doing on the app store). Where does it say that they will? Proof please, before you start using those assertions as facts about Apple's motives.

Re:Greedy Apple (1)

JustinRLynn (831164) | more than 4 years ago | (#32303698)

Perhaps you could provide arguments to the contrary? Seeing as how you must be more familiar with Apple's practices and motives than I am, do you have any evidence for your position that we're not aware of?

Re:Greedy Apple (1)

jo_ham (604554) | more than 4 years ago | (#32305346)

* Their stated position of supporting HTML5 (as a genuine alternative to flash, rather than some custom Apple-only solution). Why do this if it gives an alternative ad-delivery platform if you want to restrict it to your own solution only?

* The announcement of the new Ad service as an additional feature, and the new restrictions on language - if they are going to restrict the way you can deliver ads, why not mention it at the launch? They clearly have no problem addressing it for other parts. (this is obviously anecdotal, but it is just as valid a position as the contrary one, until we have an actual press release).

* Their previous history with web standards has strongly promoted the standards (re: Webkit/JS engine) with no pushing of an Apple-only "standard". Were possible, they always choose (and promote) the open standard. They often offer their own implementations of other standards (for example, iTunes music store AAC files) that work alongside the standard.

I cannot say "here is the certain result", I just have to consider what the likely position might be. They have done some truly boneheaded things in the past (I think the language restriction is silly, for example) but on the whole I tend to err on giving them the benefit of the doubt.

Re:Greedy Apple (1)

Anpheus (908711) | more than 4 years ago | (#32308260)

The i* Dev Agreement says that any analytics service other than Apple's is prohibited and collection of user's data must occur through the iAd framework, even if you're displaying no ads.

But AdMob and other services don't work if there's no usage information. Google would be flying blind in trying to assign values to apps and determine "touch-through" rates.

Re:Greedy Apple (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32304114)

Here you go (Section 3.3.9 of the new developer agreement): http://www.wired.com/epicenter/2010/04/with-new-developer-agreement-apple-unlevels-the-iad-playing-field/ [wired.com] - whilst it dosn't *explicitly* ban developers from using competing ad networks - it does mean that if you want *any* usage data about your app - you must use iAd - which for any developer who wants feedback makes using iAd a must. FTA:

"An ad network such as AdMob (a Google acquisition target) would clearly fall under the third-party category — the first two being Apple and the app developer — so this clause appears to bar competing ad networks from collecting data about how users interact with in-app ads on the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch, or targeting them with specific ads."

Read More http://www.wired.com/epicenter/2010/04/with-new-developer-agreement-apple-unlevels-the-iad-playing-field/#ixzz0oeS8xeWZ [wired.com]

Re:Greedy Apple (1)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 4 years ago | (#32302104)

I'll bet the people at Apple are kicking themselves now for jumping into the ad market so soon. Had they been less greedy, it would have held their big competitor at bay to some extent.

They may have kept Google from moving forward with AdMob for a little while longer, but it would also have kept Apple from getting iAd up and running for the same amount of time. iAd isn't competing with anyone else on the iPlatform so the sooner Apple starts taking their % of the ad revenue the sooner they take it to the bank.

wrong focus (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 4 years ago | (#32302100)

I think teh FTC should spend less time worrying about shit like online ads and get to work stopping wall street banks from getting too big to fail.

how america got into this position where a handful of companys have to power to DARE the government to not bail them out is beyond me.

Does the FTC realize iAds are only for iPhone? (2, Interesting)

uprise78 (1256084) | more than 4 years ago | (#32302310)

Seems silly to cite iAd as a competitor when it will literally only ever be allowed on iPhones where in Googles case they will push add on any and every phone.

Re:Does the FTC realize iAds are only for iPhone? (2, Interesting)

tlhIngan (30335) | more than 4 years ago | (#32302806)

Seems silly to cite iAd as a competitor when it will literally only ever be allowed on iPhones where in Googles case they will push add on any and every phone.

Not to mention, if you want to do an iAd, you have to use HTML5. Because of the way Jobs spurned Adobe, Adobe's busy trying to put Flash on every other phone out there, and it's coming on Android 2.2. If you're a marketing agency, and already have a whole slew of Flash ads running on DoubleClick, would you want to recode your ad for HTML5 for the iPhone, or modify your Flash ad to run under Flash on the Google/AdMob network where it'll run on Android and other phones?

Given all the developer bellyaching about how the iPhone won't do Flash, you think an ad company will learn to redo their ads in HTML5, or just adapt their existing Flash ads and have them work on phones immediately?

The only reason Apple can push iAd and have people accept it, is because of installed base. But once Android phones take over, iAd will die as it's easier to just serve up the same Flash ads on Android phones as regular PCs.

Re:Does the FTC realize iAds are only for iPhone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32311918)

Seems even sillier to cite iAd as a competitor when we have absolutely no idea how it will perform, or how the whole parties involved will play with each other. Will iAd sink or swim? Will use anti-competitive practices to hinder it? We have no reason to believe iAd is a suitable competitor to justify this merger.

Ohh, wait, I forgot; we award things based on possible future performance these days.

This decision... (2, Insightful)

VTI9600 (1143169) | more than 4 years ago | (#32302426)

...should have been fairly obvious considering how the FTC approved the far more questionable acquisition of Doubleclick three years ago. They approved that one on the basis that competition would not be hurt since Google and Doubleclick were not technically in competition with each other. The companies were, nevertheless, placing ads in the same browser windows which brought up issues of consumer privacy...issues which were promptly ignored because, again, there was no threat to competition.

In this case we're dealing with a mobile advertiser merging with (until now) a primarily non-mobile advertiser. Again, no question about killing competition, and a much smaller price tag ($750M versus $3.1B) to boot. I'm not sure what type of consumer protection/privacy issues could be raised, but that's really not the question here.

Re:This decision... (2, Interesting)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 4 years ago | (#32302482)

do the FTC take into account how is it is to switch ad providers though? even if google owned 99.9% of the online ad market, what's stopping someone comming in and under cutting them? it's dead easy to switch out ad words for another ad provider, as long as google wasn't threatening or bullying anyone trying to compete i say more power to them.

Re:This decision... (1)

yuhong (1378501) | more than 4 years ago | (#32302766)

Yea, anti-trust laws are about competition, not privacy.

Re:This decision... (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 4 years ago | (#32305670)

It's hard for me to be rational about doubleclick, since I hated it so much and google has reigned it in. (But I guess if I were buying ads, I would be wondering if google's dominance makes them too expensive).

YUO FAIL IT? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32302836)

Probl3m stems [goat.cx]
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