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Some see conflicts in Google-DoubleClick deal

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As Google waits for the European Commission to decide whether to approve its $3.1 billion acquisition of Internet ad server DoubleClick, following the Federal Trade Commission's approval last month, industry observers say the deal could present potential conflicts of interest for Google in its relationship with marketers.

Besides the display ad-serving component of DoubleClick, the deal includes Performics, a search and affiliate marketing agency. There have been rumblings that should the deal go through, Google may divest itself of Performics to avoid conflicts of interest with regard to media spending, said Kevin Lee, executive chairman of Didit Search Marketing, a competitor to Performics.

"B-to-b advertising managers have to make sure that their dollars are being spent in the most efficient way possible," Lee said. "Advertisers need to be confident that DoubleClick won't be beholden to Google in terms of allocating media spending in a particular way."

Google Chairman-CEO Eric Schmidt, said in a statement: "The FTC's strong support sends a clear message: This acquisition poses no risk to competition and will benefit consumers."

Andrew Goodman, president of search engine marketing company Page Zero Media, said that with DoubleClick in tow, "Google could become the 8,000-pound gorilla. Competing models won't be allowed to flourish, and there would be less choice for publishers and advertisers."

In a blog post soon after the FTC approved the deal, DoubleClick CEO David Rosenblatt wrote: "The FTC's decision publicly affirms what we and numerous independent analysts have been saying for months: The acquisition does not threaten competition in what is a robust, innovative and quickly evolving online advertising space."

A call to DoubleClick was referred back to Google, which would not comment beyond its news release. Several business marketers contacted for this story also declined to comment on the potential effects of the deal.

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