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Google Acquires DoubleClick for $3.1 Billion

After much speculation, Google has indeed acquired advertising network DoubleClick for $3.1 billion.

DoubleClick, founded in 1996, offers a digital marketplace that connects advertising agencies, marketers and Web site publishers seeking to place online ads. It has more than 1,500 corporate clients.

As the NYT points out, the acquisition gives Google firm footing in display advertising and a ready made list of client relationships.

“Google really wants to get into the display advertising business in a big way, and they don’t have the relationships they need to make it happen,” said Dave Morgan, the chairman of Tacoda, an online advertising network. “But DoubleClick does. It gives them immediate access to those relationships.”

It’s Google’s largest acquisition to date and is a big win over rival Microsoft, which had been in the hunt early, but dropped out when the valuation climbed above $2 billion.

It will be interesting to see how Google goes about integrating AdWords with DoubleClick, especially as DoubleClick’s new ad exchange is open to Google’s competitors.

DoubleClick’s exchange is different from the ad auctions that Google uses on its networks because the exchange is open to any Web publisher or ad network — not just the sites in Google’s network. Offline ad sales have been handled through negotiation, but the efficiency of online auction systems has caused some advertising executives to consider using auctions for offline ads in places like television and newspapers. DoubleClick’s new exchange could function as a hub for online and offline ad sales.