However there is no reason to believe that it would have provided such features that would have made it a competitor particularly better placed than the numerous already present in the market. Even if Google’s display ad serving products under development were to succeed, they would become one of many competitors acting in the display ad serving.
As indicated above, the proposed concentration combines Google's online advertising and online advertising intermediation activities with DoubleClick's display ad serving technology. The merger can be described as having a vertical dimension given that Google currently offers a bundle consisting of both intermediation and ad serving tools (that is to say the AdSense network "bundled" solution) while DoubleClick only offers stand-alone ad serving tools that can be used as a stand-alone product ("unbundled") in the indirect distribution channels or the direct distribution channel. With the acquisition of DoubleClick, Google would therefore control the leading supplier of a key input into distribution channels that compete with its own ad network (AdSense). Moreover, the merger can also be described as having a "conglomerate" aspect given that intermediation and ad serving tools are products that publishers and advertisers can purchase together (though not necessarily). With the acquisition of DoubleClick, Google would therefore acquire the leading supplier of a product that publishers and advertisers can combine with intermediation services such as those offered by Google's ad network (AdSense).
A number of respondents to the market investigation have raised concerns about the potential non-horizontal anti-competitive effects of the merger. In particular, competitors have been vocal about the potential for anti-competitive foreclosure in online ad intermediation by the new entity.
The relevant non-horizontal theories of harm the Commission has investigated in this regard can be grouped in three main categories, namely (i) foreclosure scenarios based on DoubleClick's market position in ad serving; (ii) foreclosure scenarios based on Google's market position in search advertising and online ad intermediation services; and (iii) foreclosure scenarios based on the combination of DoubleClick's and Google's databases on customer online behaviour (CPI)141. These theories are discussed in turn below.
Foreclosure strategies based on DoubleClick's market position in ad serving
Concerns have been voiced that the new entity could implement a wide range
of exclusionary price and non-price strategies. The exclusionary strategies arising from the "conglomerate" dimension of the merger include (i) increasing the price of DoubleClick tools when used by publishers or advertisers with competing ad networks or selectively increasing the price of DoubleClick tools to customers less likely to switch to other ad serving tools suppliers142, (ii)
DoubleClick's and Google's databases on customer online behaviour would confer the merged entity with an asset that could not be replicated by competitors.
To illustrate possible anti-competitive effects, a competitor has suggested that the merged entity might increase the price of DFP to serve all ads but deemed the strategy was "probably unlikely". The same