Google Nemesis Responds to Google/AdMob FTC Probe

According to a post on Google’s Public Policy blog yesterday, the firm has been talking with the Federal Trade Commission “over the past few weeks” regarding its acquisition of mobile ad network AdMob. “This week we received what’s called a ‘second request,’ which means that the FTC is asking for more information so that they can continue to review the deal,” wrote Google Group Product Manager Paul Feng.

Not surprising, Feng argued that the commission should decide the deal will not hurt the “highly competitive” mobile ad sector.

What interested me when reading the post is that the first comment is from Scott Cleland, an analyst and consultant (and quasi-lobbyist) who’s been aligned with telcos over the years and has long been a thorn in Google’s side. He was against Google’s acquisition of DoubleClick, and is back again suggesting that the FTC should block the AdMob buy since it would give Google too much control over the mobile ad industry.

Cleland is president of tech industry research and consulting firm Precursor and chairman of NetCompetition.org, a group whose members include AT&T, Comcast, the National Cable and Telecommunications Association, and Verizon Wireless. As I wrote in a piece on him in 2007, Cleland has served as a mouth-piece for the telecom industry in its efforts to stifle the net neutrality movement, often using Google as villain.

“I must respectfully challenge your re-assertion that you ‘don’t see any regulatory issues with this deal,’ given that the FTC’s second request indicates there must be ‘some’ at least,” wrote Cleland in his comment to Google’s post yesterday. He went on to cite his white paper, “Googleopoly V: Why the FTC Should Block Admob.”

He noted, “The AdMob acquisition threatens to foreclose competition and facilitate monopoly in a strategic gatekeeper market essential to the Internet economy, which would harm: consumers, developers, advertisers, publishers, smart-phone manufacturers, and broadband providers.”

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