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Summary:

The FTC says it will oppose Google’s $750 million acquisition of AdMob, the mobile ad platform. While the agency is right to take a close look at the deal, the mobile ad market is far from sewn up, and blocking the acquisition would be short-sighted.

Image courtesy Flickr user miker (http://www.flickr.com/photos/miker/355277060/)Lawyers at the U.S. Federal Trade Commission will urge the government to put the kibosh on Google’s proposed $750 million acquisition of AdMob, Reuters reported last week.

The FTC’s wariness regarding Google is understandable: Google owns Internet search around the world and last year posted a staggering net income of $6.52 billion. AdMob, too, has effectively leveraged its position as a first-mover in mobile Web advertising to become the dominant player in its space, according to figures released late last year from IDC. The market research firm said Google and AdMob together would claim a 24 percent share among U.S. mobile ad networks based on estimated 2009 revenues.

But, as I discuss in my weekly column over at GigaOM Pro (sub req’d) today, mobile advertising is still in its infancy, and it’s far from clear who will emerge as long-term winners in the space. Apple, which last week took direct aim at Google and AdMob with its iAd platform, is gearing up to become a major player in mobile ads as well. And Apple isn’t the only other major player on the field.

Millennial Media — should the AdMob acquisition go through — would be the largest independent firm in the space, with 18 percent of the market according to IDC’s figures. Other contenders include Yahoo, Microsoft and JumpTap, not to mention AOL and Nokia. It’s also worth noting that countless smaller players, such as ChaCha, WHERE, Goldspot and 4INFO, are gaining traction in segments other than display ads, which are AdMob’s bread and butter. And mobile carriers, who have yet to make much of an impact in the space, may yet leverage the user data and demographic information that remain the most potentially effective tools in mobile advertising.

All of which goes to say that AdMob’s position as a leader could change relatively quickly. So while the FTC is right to look closely at the deal, it would be short-sighted to block the acquisition. After all, Third Screen Media was once a leader in mobile marketing too.

Read the full article here.

Photo courtesy Flickr user Mike Rowehl

  1. The IDC figures are incorrect based on interviews I conducted with several of the subject ad networks, which uniformly disputed them.

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  2. I pray to God that the AdMob deal gets blocked. Google has a monopoly in search ads AdMob would be a monopoly in mobile as well. Don’t let Google dominate mobile as well complain to the FTC!

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  3. [...] the meantime, there were indications the FTC was leaning towards mounting a case against the deal, including mobile developers blogging that they had spoken with investigators who seemed to have [...]

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