Moreover, it is doubtful whether DoubleClick would have an incentive to try to do so because stopping to be a neutral service provider would require far- reaching changes in the company's business model. At present, DoubleClick's business is focused on its service to customers. As confirmed by the market investigation, advertisers and publishers value DoubleClick's service in the area of ad serving in the sense that it is time-tested and reliable, scalable and secure. Indeed, many of the respondents to the Commission's market investigation indicated that these characteristics had been the main reason for them to choose DoubleClick as their ad serving provider. DoubleClick's incentives to continue to provide such services coincide with its customers' preferences. The better DoubleClick's service becomes, the better each of its clients will be served. In view of these circumstances, it appears that DoubleClick would not have any interest in discriminating between its ad serving customers by offering different service levels or by favouring some customers to the detriment of others. This neutral stance is coherent with DoubleClick's contractual engagements discussed above.
Changing these contractual provisions would only make sense if DoubleClick would subsequently actually make use of the data of individual advertisers to the benefit of other advertisers (or publishers). That would, however, jeopardise DoubleClick's current position of neutrality. For instance, data gathered from one advertiser may be very important and useful to another advertiser, possibly a competitor of the first one, or to DoubleClick itself if it develops as an integrated intermediation provider. If DoubleClick could sell information gathered from such data as it pleases, its customers could no longer be sure that DoubleClick would treat them fairly and equally compared to other customers. This would probably be taken into account by actual and potential customers of DoubleClick, when choosing their ad serving provider in the future (whereas at present, customers base their choice mainly on technical characteristics).
Given the available alternatives to DoubleClick's ad serving technology, such a fundamental change in DoubleClick's business model would be likely to cause a considerable number of current DoubleClick ad serving customers to switch over. Therefore, it is doubtful whether DoubleClick would have an incentive to change its contractual engagements in the future.
From this analysis it follows that DoubleClick is unlikely to have any particular competitive advantage in the ad serving market and, ultimately in the intermediation market, due to network effects deriving from the CPI data it collects.
As regards the scenario in which DoubleClick offers its customers some
compensation for the right to use their data, it must be pointed out that nothing prevents other companies from also offering DoubleClick's customers compensation for the right to use their data. Consequently, the possibility that new models of joint use of data relevant for ad targeting may emerge in the future is not restricted to DoubleClick and its customers or, indeed, to the type of data under discussion here.