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Google's Schmidt dismisses DoubleClick envy

'Give me a break'

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Web 2.0 Expo Eric Schmidt today brushed aside competition and privacy concerns stemming from Google's $3.1bn DoubleClick purchase.

Google's chief executive said it was false for search rival Microsoft and telecoms giant AT&T to claim the DoubleClick marriage damages the competition and raises anti-trust issues, as advertisers and media companies have plenty of other ad serving services to select. Microsoft and AT&T have urged US regulators to probe the deal.

DoubleClick represents just one per cent of a trillion dollar advertising business, according to Schmidt speaking at today's Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco, California. "They are wrong... give me a break," he said of the AT&T and Microsoft complaints.

This being Silicon Valley, the irony couldn't be richer. Microsoft and AT&T have both been hauled through the US courts over anti-trust matters. Both companies also view Google with hostility. Microsoft was rumored to be making a $2bn offer for DoubleClick while AT&T CEO Edward Whitacre has voiced his displeasure at Google raking it in while getting a "free ride" on his company's internet pipes.

Speaking four days after news of Google's latest mega-deal broke, Schmidt sought to reassure consumers and businesses alarmed by the fact Google would own too much information, through search and expanded ad placement.

According to Schmidt, it's not in Google's interests to abuse information as it would lose business. He conceded that Google must continue to re-assure the public of its intention not to "do evil", and added that Google's engineers are working to anonymise things like internet searches.

"You are not forced to use DoubleClick. If you become unhappy, you have other choices. For that reason it makes no sense for us to get to that point," he said. "It's a legitimate concern, if we lost advertising and end user support the company is kaput. We have to address end-user and advertisers' concern."

Schmidt, meanwhile, justified the bubblicious $3.1bn offer for a company whose grotesque and irritating banner ads turned off consumers to the point where DoubleClick succumbed to a $1.1bn private equity buy-out in 2005.

"Google has a pretty strong ad business. We have greater cash flow out of that technology. When you marry that to assets we've assembled, that's how you get to that [offer] number," Schmidt said during a conference Q&A.

But what of the fact Google once dismissed a DoubleClick partnership on the grounds of taste. The tactful Schmidt's response? Things have changed.

"Targeting, publication support tools combined with Google technology will produce a better end user experience. The user will be happier because of the faster load. Advertisers will get more efficiency and targetability and the publisher gets more reach. The math works," he said.®

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