earning statistics. They would also be able to use automated sell functions to increase sales of their inventory, or have a unique patent pending technology for integrating ads that is interactive, flexible and real time and can be targeted on the content of online video.
Even companies that are not currently active on a given territory are to be taken into account. One of the significant advertiser-side providers considers itself as a credible though much smaller competitor to DoubleClick in North America on the publisher-side; its product is not actively sold in Europe due to a decision to focus on advertisers. However, as expansion requires limited investment and can be achieved with or without local presence, this company could readily enter and provide a supplementary competitive constraint. This is further illustrated, regarding advertiser-side tools, by publisher-side providers planning to expand their local scope of activity.
It is also worth noting that some competitors and large, sophisticated customers (e.g. eBay) have stated that ad serving technology is becoming a commodity and its development or use poses no specific technical problems. This is also admitted by DoubleClick that has stated in internal documents that "core ad serving is perceived as commodity" and that "competitive differentiation is decreasing"83. Several companies even use in-house systems to serve ads onto their pages (for publishers) or into their networks and there are even ad serving services provided for free (e.g. Openads tools offered under an open source model).
Alleged "neutrality" of DoubleClick
Some advertisers and publishers have stressed the fact that DoubleClick, by not being present in the publishing or advertising side of the industry, would be preferred for its neutrality and would have an advantage from not being at the same time an intermediary and a competitor on one side or other of the platform. This would apply for both the advertiser side, where the main competitor (Atlas) is a subsidiary of Microsoft which can be considered as a competitor in selling online ad space for publishers, and the publisher side, where 24/7 Real Media (a subsidiary of WPP) or ADTECH (a subsidiary of AOL) can also be considered as competitors in buying or selling online ad space for advertisers.
However, the significance of neutrality appears to be less relevant when considering the profile of some customers of DoubleClick’s current competitors. First, the relevance of this issue is questionable when considering the significant market shares of "integrated competitors" (on both the advertiser and publisher sides; see Microsoft on the advertiser-side and AOL and WPP on the publisher- side) which shows that non-neutral players are seen as suitable providers. Indeed, on the publisher side, integrated competitors who have their own website operations do also act as third party ad serving providers to serve publishers which are direct competitors to their ad sales interests. These integrated operators therefore have the incentive to provide a “neutral” service in order to first keep these customers, but also attract new ones. For instance the recently
See: "The ad serving market and competitors", DoubleClick internal document provided to the FTC.