We have long been worried about the failure of Google to candidly address the numerous policy issues involving its own growing dominance in the online ad market, especially the implications of the pending DoubleClick acquisition. Today, David Drummond, Google’s senior VP, posted a piece on the corporate policy blog on Microsoft’s attempted takeover of Yahoo! Mr. Drummond suggested that the “underlying principles of the Internet’s openness and innovation” were at stake if such a merger occurred.
But missing from the piece was any acknowledgment of Google’s own dominant role in interactive advertising; how it would be incorporating the client base and perspectives of the Fortune 1500 style users of DoubleClick’s data targeting/delivery system; its own aggressive plans to extend its market share in search to almost every other sector of the advertising and marketing business. In a glaring and telling omission, Mr. Drummond never used the “P” word–privacy. Because Google’s failure to seriously address the privacy implications of its own business practices–especially in the context of DoubleClick–is one of the most troubling and telling aspects about its future plans for the digital media.
Mr. Drummond does raise important questions that must be addressed as we review Microsoft’s plans for expansion, including the likely scenario of bundling operating system and desktop services with data collection and marketing. But Google should acknowledge that it was Microsoft that was the leading corporate opponent as it sought to win approval by the FTC of its DoubleClick deal. There’s a “tit for tat” quality to Mr. Drummond’s post. Mr. Drummond’s conveniently ignores the real question about preserving an open and innovative Internet. What happens to online publishing, diversity of expression, privacy, and innovation when we end up with only two mega giants–Google and Microsoft–in control of online advertising? And who both ultimately have the same data collection, micro-targeting across all platforms and applications, business model?