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Key Senator Finds Google-Yahoo Deal Deserves Scrutiny, Stops Short Of Blocking It

Even if the Department of Justice says Google’s (NSDQ: GOOG) search ad pact with Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) clears its antitrust hurdles, Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wisconsin), chair of the antitrust subcommittee, says that it will still require close monitoring to ensure it doesn’t threaten the online ad industry, Reuters reported. By not specifically saying that the deal should be prevented from going forward, Kohl is either giving his tacit assent to the deal or at least resigning himself to its ultimate approval by the DOJ.

His comment suggest he’s certainly looking ahead. While saying Google and Yahoo didn’t supply the subcommittee with all the information it would have liked to make a full decision, Kohl encouraged the DOJ to be prepared to act down the road if “Google is gaining a dominant market position as a result of the Google-Yahoo agreement.” Since Google already has a dominant position in search, it’s hard to discern what Kohl means specifically. He did hint that a red flag should be raised if online ad prices rise significantly as a result of Google/Yahoo, and if Yahoo is either decisively strengthened or weakened.

Google to start advertising itself?: As the Capitol Hill debate over Google/Yahoo goes on, a different debate is going on internally among the search giant’s executives. After avoiding advertisements for itself, some within Google feel the time has come for the company to launch a traditionally-styled ad campaign to promote the brand, WSJ reports. While Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page beat back a proposal for a big TV campaign during the Olympics, the company is currently talking to ad shop Wieden + Kennedy, which crafted some ads for Google in Japan in August, and a smaller agency, Taxi New York, about doing a campaign around some of its products. Although known better for search and its AdSense products, Google has spent about $20 million a year on offline ads, according to TNS Media Intelligence. And with a new G1 phone to promote with T-Mobile, it seems Google may be warming up to the idea of a wider offline branding effort.