Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) has made its first public comments on the European Commission’s review of Google’s $3.1 billion purchase of DoubleClick, and, as you can probably guess, its take is pretty negative. In a submission to the commission, Yahoo says the purchase, if approved, will mean higher prices for online display ads and less competition in the digital publishing sector. Andrew Cecil, public policy head for Yahoo Europe: “Combining Google’s search business with Doubleclick’s ad technology will strengthen Google’s dominant position in Europe. The competitive landscape for online advertising will be negatively impacted.” (via Sunday Telegraph)
So, we’re hearing the same arguments here that have been voiced in the US. Some specifics for Europe: Google (NSDQ: GOOG) currently controls over 80 percent of the continent’s £4.5 billion ($9.2 billion) search ad market, Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) previously warned. Yahoo argues, that until now, display ads have been a lever to help other companies compete against Google for online advertising – but tie-up with DoubleClick will mean Google also will hold the biggest player in Europe’s online display advertising market, too. The commission will decide at the end of October whether it will launch a more comprehensive, three-month investigation into the deal.
Meanwhile, The Guardian reports competition commissioner Neelie Kroes saying the commission will not investigate potential privacy issues arising from the proposed deal as part of its review: “We are looking at the influence on competition and that’s it.” No surprise there as Kroes’ remit is antitrust, not privacy. Just in case, Google has been making moves to show that it wants to safeguard consumers – most recently agreeing to adopt an international privacy standard from the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation; and promising to work on implementing standards better than those currently in use by the National Advertising Initiative.