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Google Faces FTC Investigation, Did Microsoft Shoot Itself in the Foot?

The Federal Trade Commission has decided to investigate whether Google’s acquisition of DoubleClick opens up any antitrust issues, according to the NYT.

The inquiry began at the end of last week…[t]his step, known as a “second request” for information, can suggest that a proposed acquisition raises more serious antitrust issues. But legal experts said the request is mainly a sign that the agency is closely scrutinizing the Google deal….Still, privacy issues are not typically the concern of antitrust officials. In reviewing a proposed merger, legal experts say, regulators weigh the likely impact on competition and struggle with tricky technical matters like defining the relevant market to measure.

As we reported a few weeks back, it was highly likely an FTC investigation was coming and is often the norm for acquisitions of this size.

FeedBurner Acquired by Google?

TechCrunch reports that rumors of Google acquiring FeedBurner have been confirmed. TechCrunch reports that Google paid $100 million—all cash—for the RSS management company, and the deal should close in 2-3 weeks.

No word on the offical Google or FeedBurner blogs yet. However, last month on the FeedBurner blog, they did note why their company would be so attractive:

We have resellers in Japan, Spain and Russia, our customer base includes thousands upon thousands of feeds from publishers all over the world and our flame-o-con burns brightly for millions of subscribers in 190 different countries.

TechCrunch reports that FeedBurner founders including Sam Sethi will be locked in for “a couple of years.”

Along with everyone else, we must speculate whether feedvertising will now simply feature AdSense ads.

Rumor Mill – Yahoo in $1b Talks with Reluctant Bebo?

Yahoo has a billion dollars and its burning a hole in the corporate pocket. After failing to convince Facebook to sell for a $1 billion, Yahoo has turned its affections to another popular social network, Bebo.

Bebo is very popular in the UK, so you can see why the press over there is jumping on the rumors.

Yahoo! is rumoured to be weighing a $1 billion (£500m) bid for Bebo, the privately owned social networking site, after shuffling its management team to better place itself for acquisitions….Given Bebo’s strength in Britain, an approach by Yahoo! would be likely to involve Toby Coppel, the Yahoo! executive who previously led the company’s global mergers and acquisitions team and was recently appointed managing director of the group’s operations in Europe.

Rumor Mill – Google Buying Feedburner?

It’s Friday, which must mean it’s time to crank up the rumor mill to “11” and get speculative. :-)

Vecosys is reporting from a “very trusted source” that Google is getting ready to buy Feedburner, in order to gain access to their RSS ad network.

The delay in announcing the deal, I am told is solely due to the delay in closing out the DoubleClick deal.

It’s really no more than a rumor at this stage, but it would certainly be a smart move by Google. With more of the web being viewed by RSS readers, Feedburner provides a great platform for advertisers to reach a new audience. In addition, think of all the great data Feedburner is collecting about not only RSS feeds, but web sites in general.

Breaking – Microsoft to Acquire aQauntive for $6 billion

Microsoft has finally found its online advertising partner, with news that it will acquire aQuantive. After missing out on DoubleClick to Google, watching Yahoo pick up Right Media and WPP buying 24/7 Real Media, Microsoft decided to go “all in” with a $6 billion cash deal, paying $66.50 a share!

“The advertising industry is evolving and growing at an incredible pace, moving increasingly toward online and IP-served platforms, which dramatically increases the importance of software for this industry,” said a statement from Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. “Today’s announcement represents the next step in the evolution of our ad network.”

Founded in 1997 and headquartered in Seattle, aQuantive is the parent company of Avenue A | Razorfish, Atlas and Drivepm.

WPP Buying 24/7 Real Media for $649m

It looks like Microsoft has lost out again, in its quest to buy an internet advertising firm. This time, UK advertising company WPP Group has snuck in and picked-up 24/7 Real Media – a company MSFT had reportedly been in talks with – for $649 million or $11.75 a share – 45% premium on TFSM’s share price two months ago.

“The TFSM team has long experience in the industry and has developed one of the most sophisticated and robust Internet technology platforms, that has enabled the business to deliver strong revenue growth, particularly in 2005 and 2006,” WPP said in a statement.

Microsoft is starting to run out of options. While there are plenty of online advertising companies out there, waiting for MSFT to call, its looking like late in the day of an NFL draft – sure, there’s still some talent out there, but the big names are have already been picked.

AOL Acquires ADTECH

Yes, in addition to buying Third Screen Media, AOL acquired the controlling interest in ADTECH AG. (This is not to be confused with ad:tech, the digital marketing conference.) ADTECH AG is an online ad-serving and e-mail marketing company based in Germany.

ADTECH will fall under the Advertising.com umbrella. AOL acquired Advertising.com in June 2004.

I’ll let you read how they describe ADTECH’s platform in the press release. I never can make sense of so many empty buzzwords slapped together:

The ADTECH ad-serving platform differentiates itself via its scalable, enterprise-class infrastructure and publisher-friendly tools—providing intuitive and feature-rich user interfaces, superior inventory management and forecasting capabilities, and robust and flexible reporting.

AOL chairman/CEO Randy Falco says: