Last Friday, the Department of Justice officially approved Google’s purchase of AdMeld. No surprise there.
The bad news for Google is that the purchase of display advertising exchange AdMeld could hurt its antitrust case with the Federal Trade Commission, since it signals even more consolidation. As noted by FairSearch, Google “is seeking to expand its monopoly power in search and search advertising to other aspects of online advertising, where Google is already the 800lb gorilla between its acquisition of DoubleClick in 2008, and multi-billion-dollar annual AdSense business.”
While the US government continues to play footsies with its new friend-with-benefits—benefits in the form of millions of dollars in lobbying fees and contributions—Europe is playing hard to get. The same day the DOJ approved the AdMeld purchase, the Financial Times revealed that the European Commission will soon release a 400-page(!) outline of its antitrust allegations against Google. Not helping its case here or across the pond: a ZenithOptimedia report released Monday that Google controls 44 percent of global online ad revenues.
Google’s strategy is to win back a public becoming increasingly skeptical of its “do no evil” ethos. Along with the ATM it set up in Washington, it has splurged on ads and marketing. Silicon Valley’s Mercury News reports that it has already spent nearly four times more on TV advertising time in the first six months of 2011 than in all of 2010. It seems to be working; Google has had five of the top 10 most effective TV ads by websites so far this year, according to Ace Metrix, which analyzes the effectiveness of TV ads.
But if more stories come out like this one, that Google’s “organic results are filler to pump deceptive ads at consumers,” it will have to spend a whole lot more to buy back the public’s goodwill and trust. At some point, no amount of lobbying or advertising will be enough to save Google from antitrust sanctions. That day seems to get closer with every new revelation.