Axel Springer, a major German online publisher and seller of online and offline ad space owns Zanox.de, a leading affiliate network, and a major French ad serving provider, Smart AdServer.
Aegis, another major ad agency, acquired BlueStreak, an advertiser-side ad serving provider.
In addition, and contrary to DoubleClick, both Microsoft and Yahoo! also have sophisticated search ad businesses that provide a very good platform for selling search ads, which they could integrate into their bundled offering, thereby increasing its attractiveness in relation to advertisers which in turn would attract more publishers to their networks. DoubleClick would not be able to replicate such a larger bundle in the absence of the merger with Google.
To the extent that neutrality is perceived as an advantage of an intermediation service provider, all vertically integrated providers have a strong incentive to ensure that their intermediation services are neutral from their publishing or advertising activities. This is evidenced by the number of publishers who have succeeded despite the lack of such perceptions of neutrality. Google has its own publisher site and also provides content through YouTube, which has not impeded the growth of Google’s AdSense network. The same is true for Yahoo!, Microsoft and AOL, which are major publishers also operating substantial ad networks or ad exchanges. Their affiliation with a publisher or advertiser (in the case of WPP) has not prevented them from operating some of the largest intermediation platforms.
In view of these considerations and developments, it seems reasonable to conclude that the combination of DoubleClick's leading and neutral ad serving technology with an ad exchange would probably have allowed this company to become a player in the online ad intermediation market. However, it cannot be established that such combination would have placed DoubleClick in a unique position with regards to other intermediation players that would also benefit from a similar combination of ad serving and intermediation activities and are already established in the intermediation market with a stronger position than DoubleClick.
Advantages deriving from the current customer base of DoubleClick among both publishers and advertisers
To assess whether DoubleClick's customer base would be likely to contribute to DoubleClick becoming a strong competitor to Google without the merger, it is necessary to assess the importance of this customer base.
Firstly, the simple numerical size of the present customer base of DoubleClick as ad server ([<300]* advertisers and [<300]* publishers at the EEA level in 2006) does not suggest that it enjoys a significant advantage compared to its future competitors in intermediation. For instance, when considering ad networks or ad exchanges active in the EU (such as AdLink, TradeDoubler, Zanox, Advertising.com, ValueClick or Yahoo!), they have several thousands of customers on both the publisher and advertiser sides. Consequently, even if all of DoubleClick's customers decided to use its future ad