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Viacom shuns Google's DoubleClick for Microsoft

Yes, they say, it is Google's DoubleClick

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After suing one Google acquisition for $1bn, US media behemoth Viacom has now divorced another, leaping headlong into the arms of Microsoft.

Back in March, Viacom slapped a $1bn copyright infringement lawsuit on YouTube, and as lawyers continue to bicker about whether Google is responsible for Viacom-owned clips posted to the world's most popular video site, the media giant has yanked its ad dollars out from under DoubleClick and spilled them onto Microsoft.

DoubleClick, of course, is the online ad firm Google agreed to acquire back in April. The US Federal Trade Commission and the European Union are still investigating the $3.1bn acquisition - yes, $3.1bn - but according to Bloomberg, the FTC is set to rubber stamp the deal any day now.

In the past, DoubleClick served up online ads for Viacom, which owns big-name cable channels like MTV and Comedy Central and the venerable movie house Paramount Pictures. But now Viacom ads will be handled by Atlas, the ad-serving platform Microsoft grabbed back in May when it acquired DoubleClick-rival aQuantive. The Viacom-Microsoft deal will stretch for five years, but financial terms were not disclosed.

As part of the deal, Microsoft has also won the right to use Viacom-owned TV shows and movies on Redmond properties like MSN and XBox, and it will team with Viacom to build promotional web sites for events like the MTV Awards. If you care.

This is the third big ad win for Microsoft and Atlas in recent weeks, after high-profile deals with CNBC.com and Digg. Having oozed $6bn in cash for aQuantive - yes, $6bn in cash - Redmond is nothing less than serious about this internet ad thing.

But if the Google-DoubleClick deal goes through - as Bloomberg claims it will - Microsoft will have a mountain to climb. Redmond has vigorously fought the deal, claiming that a marriage between two of the most successful internet advertising operations will hamper market competition and destroy online privacy as we know it.

Naturally, Google sees things a little differently. It believes a rubber-stamped DoubleClick pact will empower consumers, fund small businesses, and promote free speech. We think that's tosh. Microsoft accusing a rival of hampering market competition is ridiculous, but not as ridiculous as this free speech nonsense. ®

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

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