The FTC unanimously clears Google-AdMob acquisition, specifically cites Apple’s iAd as reason

The FTC unanimously clears Google-AdMob acquisition, specifically cites Apple’s iAd as reason

The FTC (Federal Trade Commission) has cleared Google’s acquisition of mobile ad platform AdMob, specifically citing Apple’s upcoming iAd advertising platform as the major reason for the approval.

Although the Commission felt that the acquisition “raised serious antitrust issues” they changed their mind in a unanimous 5-0 vote (as many, including us, thought) when Steve Jobs announced iAd during the iPhone OS 4.0 announcement. “As a result of Apple’s entry (into the market), AdMob’s success to date on the iPhone platform is unlikely to be an accurate predictor of AdMob’s competitive significance going forward, whether AdMob is owned by Google or not,” said the report.

The statement released by the FTC is actually quite interesting. Here’s an except:

“…evidence gathered by the agency raised important questions about the transaction. Google and AdMob have competed head-to-head for the past few years, with a notable increase in intensity during the past year. This competition has spurred innovation and allowed mobile publishers to keep a large share of the revenue generated from the sale of their ad space. The companies also have economies of scale that give them a major advantage over smaller rivals in the business, the statement says.

These concerns, however, were outweighed by recent evidence that Apple is poised to become a strong competitor in the mobile advertising market, the FTC’s statement says. Apple recently acquired Quattro Wireless and used it to launch its own iAd service. In addition, Apple can leverage its close relationships with application developers and users, its access to a large amount of proprietary user data, and its ownership of iPhone software development tools and control over the iPhone developers’ license agreement.”

So basically, the FTC believes that AdMob is going to disappear from the iPhone because of iAd. Of course, unless Apple takes some kind of drastic measure and blocks AdMob ads somehow (which would generate lots of backlash, so highly unlikely) its the developers that have the final say on which platform they want to run on the iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad. Although iAd ad units looked pretty good (and integrated in the iPhone experience) when Jobs demoed them, Google should be able to make AdMob even better (and of course Google is an advertising megastore, Apple is not) so developers may just stick with AdMob on the iPhone for some time yet.

The timing for this couldn’t be any better, as Google has just wrapped up its developer conference where it focused on Android (which of course it will use AdMob for serving ads in apps) and shortly after AdMob announced that they’ve been continuing to kill it, surpassing 200 billion ads served. If this blog post that just went up is any indication, they’re certainly thrilled with the decision.

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