After intense on-going scrutiny, FTC announced today the approval of Google’s $750M acquisition of AdMob, concluding it’s “unlikely to harm competition in the emerging market for mobile advertising networks.”
In a statement issued today on its Website, the Commission said that although the combination of the two leading mobile advertising networks “raised serious antitrust issues,” the agency’s concerns were ultimately overshadowed by “recent developments in the market.”
The most notable development that tipped the scales in Google’s favor was obviously Apple’s introduction of iAd. “In addition, a number of firms appear to be developing or acquiring smartphone platforms to better compete against Apple’s iPhone and Google’s Android, and these firms would have a strong incentive to facilitate competition among mobile advertising networks,” the commission explained in its statement.
The Commission stressed that mergers in fast-growing new markets like mobile advertising should get the same level of antitrust scrutiny as those in other markets. The statement goes on to note that, “though we have determined not to take action today, the Commission will continue to monitor the mobile marketplace to ensure a competitive environment and to protect the interests of consumers.”
The investigation was prolonged by the fact that the FTC had no historical data to reference, as the mobile advertising industry didn’t exist in a significant fashion a year or two ago. Further complicating things was Google’s already massive reach in terms of Online advertising, which the Commission feared would parlay into the mobile world as well.
“Although Google may have a dominant position in Internet search advertising, the mobile ad market is still fragmented, embryonic, and potentially vulnerable to another company, Apple, dominating the competition,” explained David B. Yoffie, a professor of international business administration at the Harvard Business School to the New York Times today. “Ironically, Google might make this market more competitive.”