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Feds clear Google, AdMeld melding

Justice Department: 'Competitive'. Others may disagree

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After nearly six months of deliberation, the US Department of Justice has cleared Google’s acquisition of online advertising firm AdMeld, saying that the market is still competitive.

In June, Google made a $400m bid for the firm, which specializes in providing supply-side platform (SSP) support for online display advertisers, but the Feds started sniffing around the deal almost immediately. Google is under increasing scrutiny from federal regulators, who are under pressure to ensure Mountain View doesn’t pull a Microsoft in the search-advertising market.

“Given Google’s significant presence in search, as previously noted during our 2010 investigation involving Microsoft/Yahoo! and 2008 investigation involving Google/Yahoo!,” said the DOJ in a statement, "the Antitrust Division also carefully evaluated whether Google’s acquisition of AdMeld would enable Google to extend its market power in the Internet search industry to online display advertising through anticompetitive means.

“The division will continue to rigorously enforce the antitrust laws to ensure that transactions affecting evolving markets such as display and other forms of online advertising, as well as search, do not inhibit competition or innovation in any way.”

Google welcomed the announcement, and said for the moment it would carry on running AdMeld as a separate platform from its DoubleClick for Publishers and Ad Exchange, but would look to integrate them down the line.

“The content produced by Google’s and Admeld’s publisher partners is the lifeblood of the internet,” said Neal Mohan, vice president of display advertising on Google’s blog. “We can’t wait to start building the next generation of tools and services that will help them grow their businesses.”

The combined companies will focus on building a combined sales platform for desktop, video, mobile, and tablets he said, as well as adding in greater support for data analytics and opening up new advertising types.

Microsoft and others won’t be happy with the ruling, however. Ever since the DoubleClick acquisition by Google, the competition has been crying foul about Google’s position in the market – and in their eyes, the AdMeld merger will only make things worse. ®

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