I missed the fine print when I first checked out the 51-page AEI-Brookings Joint Center for Regulatory Studies paper on the Google-DoubleClick deal: This is yet another piece of research funded by Microsoft (and, in this case, AT&T).
Some industry observers, like PaidContent (which noted the Microsoft backing of the paper), pointed out what its authors viewed as flaws in AEI-Brookings' arguments. PaidContent notes:
"The one big-red-flag in this (Brookings') argument: the contention that search-based ads are substitutable by contextual-based advertising which in turn can be substituted by graphic/displays advertising, as market prices change. Not convinced that’s true: all three serve different functions, some common-sense analysis of ad buyer’s intentions would say."
But analyst Henry Blodget, on his Internet Outsider blog (which notes clearly the Microsoft-funded element of the study), sees Google's -- not Microsoft's/Brookings'-- claim as suspect:
"Google's argument, that 'paid search' and 'display' are two different businesses, is bogus. Why? In part because Google itself sells search and display exactly the same way (PPC). In part because some 'display' ads look just like paid search ads. In part because the whole premise of AdSense for Content is that web users won't have to bother "searching" to find the ads--they'll appear next to what the users are already interested in. In part because Google's closest competitor, misfiring Yahoo, treats all web advertising as a single business. In part because search and display ads sometimes appear on the same pages. And mainly because, in the eyes of almost everyone but Google, it's all just web advertising."
Microsoft ended up spending its $6 billion DoubleClick allowance on aQuantive. If Google isn't allowed to buy DoubleClick because of antitrust concerns, it will be interesting to see who, if anyone, snaps up the company.