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display ad serving as well as search intermediation and ad serving for publishers. These competitors include financially strong (groups of) companies such as Microsoft, Yahoo! and AOL178. According to the notifying party, the threat of such counter-strategies being employed by its competitors constitutes an additional factor making it difficult, if not impossible for the merged entity to foreclose its rivals by engaging in the described bundling strategy.

    • 345.

      Given these circumstances, there are notable indications that, practically, Google may not be able to foreclose competitors in the ad serving market, at least on the advertiser side where the products to be bundled are not being sold simultaneously and the pricing mechanism for these products is very different. In view of Google' strong position in the search ad segment and in the (search) intermediation market, however, it cannot be excluded completely, at least on the publisher side, that the merged entity may have the (limited) ability to foreclose rivals by bundling the provision of online advertising space for search ads or the provision of (search) intermediation services with DoubleClick's ad serving technology.

        • 7.3.2.2.

          Incentive to foreclose

          • 7.3.2.2.1.

            Bundling Google's sales of search ads and (search) intermediation services with DFA and/or DFP

    • 346.

      However, the Commission found that, for the following reasons, the merged entity would not have an incentive to adopt such a strategy because that strategy would not be profitable.

347.

Firstly, by requiring advertisers or publishers wanting to place search ads via

Google or wanting to make use of Google's (search) ad intermediation services to make a certain minimum use of DFA or DFP, the merged entity would run the risk that some customers would no longer be willing to purchase search ads or (search) intermediation services from Google, either because they would rather

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Microsoft owns a portal (MSN), an ad network, a publisher-side display ad server, an advertiser-side ad serving business (Atlas), an ad agency (Avenue A), a publisher-side ad serving business (Atlas AdManager) an ad network (DRIVEpm) and an ad exchange (AdECN). It has recently also launched its new Content Ads service (in beta format) to all Microsoft adCenter advertisers, which will automatically distribute Microsoft ads to both search results pages and content pages. Finally, it has launched an entirely new technology known as "AdMarket", which is designed to allow publishers to sell premium inventory without using a direct sales force, an ad network or ad exchange.

Also Yahoo! owns a portal, a search engine and an ad network, has begun marketing a publisher-side display ad serving solution and has recently acquired a leading ad exchange (RightMedia) and a large ad network (BlueLithium).

Finally, AOL operates a web portal, sells online advertising through its Advertising.com network, owns a provider of ad serving technology (ADTECH), owns a rich media solution (Lightningcast), has acquired a mobile phone advertising network (Third Screen Media) and an ad network offering behavioural targeting services (Tacoda). In addition, in September 2007, AOL formally announced the formation of "Platform A", an ad buying platform and network intended to integrate AOL's display ad network, Advertising.com, with its ADTECH, Tacoda, Lightningcast, and Third Screen Media businesses and technologies. See: http://press.aol.com/article_display.cfm?article_id=1297&section_id=14 .

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