You are here

Yahoo

DOJ's Interest in Reviewing the Google-Twitter Agreement

What would be the DOJ's interest in having a formal investigation/review of the Google-Twitter agreement?

Google-Twitter search agreement delayed for DOJ antitrust review?

Microsoft publicly announced it has already launched a beta of bing Twitter that incorporates Twitter tweets into Microsoft's search results, while Google also announced an agreement with Twitter, but said in an announcement blog post that: "we look forward to having a product that showcases how tweets can make search better in the coming months."

The glaring question is why Google, which prides itself on speed and innovation, and which routinely launches new products and services in beta, will not offer a Twitter product for "months."

The most logical conclusion is what I blogged and tweeted about on October 9th: "Will Google seek DOJ approval of any Twitter agreement?"

Advertising Agencies Urge DOJ to Approve Microsoft-Yahoo Search Agreement

In stark contrast to their opposition to the Google-Yahoo ad agreement, the American Association of Advertising Agencies (the 4As) is now urging the DOJ to quickly approve the Microsoft-Yahoo search agreement because they "believe that Yahoo! and Microsoft's proposal to combine their technologies and search platforms is good for advertisers, marketing services agencies, web publishers, and consumers."

  • This letter is powerful evidence that the advertising industry remains deeply concerned about Google's dominance of search advertising, and welcomes the prospect of a more viable search advertising competitive alternative -- i.e. the proposed Microsoft-Yahoo's search agreement.

Will Google seek DOJ approval of any Twitter agreement?

Reuters reports that Twitter is in talks with Google and Microsoft about "licensing its data feed to the companies search engines."

If a Google-Twitter agreement materializes, surely the DOJ will want to review any proposed Google-Twitter agreement for antitrust issues.

FCC's concluding market power in the wrong place; See great ACI analysis: Broadband vs Internet profits

Given that the apparent justification for new formal net neutrality rules is that fifteen-year policy has failed and that the market is unable to ensure consumer choice, the FCC will need to justify with facts that broadband providers indeed have market power to exercise anti-competitively.

Kudos to Larry Darby of the American Consumer Institute for his excellent and illuminating comparative financial analysis of the market power and profits of broadband companies vs. Internet companies. From his post

Google: Antitrust's Pinocchio?

First, antitrust's modern day Pinocchio claimed that competition is just "one click away," now Google is claiming that the notion that scale is important to search competition is "bogus."

  • Google's Chief Economist, Hal Varian is pushing a preposterous, self-serving argument in CNET that scale is not important to search competition:
    • "...the scale arguments are pretty bogus in our view because it's not the quantity or quality of the ingredients that make a difference, it's the recipes. We think we're where we are today because we've got better recipes...  I also think we have a better kitchen..."

Why is Google's "bogus" claim bogus?

First, does Google think for a minute that antitrust enforcers' investigations have not assembled substantial evidence/quotes from Google itself about the importance of scale in search?

Where else will a viable competitive alternative to Google come from, if not from a Yahoo-Microsoft deal?

The core question at the heart of the DOJ's review of the proposed Yahoo-Microsoft search partnership is where else will competition to Google's increasing dominance come from, if not from the proposed Yahoo-Microsoft search partnership? 

The DOJ has deep and current expertise in this market given their investigation of the Google-Yahoo ad partnership last fall and DOJ's current investigation of the Google Book Settlement. The DOJ also appreciates the facts that:

Google's gobbling Yahoo's search revenue share -- per Google/Yahoo earnings reports

Yahoo lost 11% of its search revenue share to Google during the first six months of 2009 versus the last six months of 2008, per Yahoo's and Google's 2Q09 earnings reports. 

  • This time period comparison was selected because it represents most of the time period since DOJ blocked the Google-Yahoo ad partnership 11-05-08, where the DOJ concluded that Google and Yahoo had combined market shares of 90% and 95% in the relevant antitrust markets of search advertising and search advertising syndication. 

It is relevant, interesting, and instructive to analyze what has happened since the DOJ's 11-05-09 action, and since the economic downturn, given that the DOJ concluded Google and Yahoo commanded 90% and 95% market shares at that time.  

This relative revenue share transfer analysis is straight-forward.

DOJ is formally investigating another Google deal

An unusual and notable pattern appears to be developing with Google and DOJ antitrust enforcers. 

  • Twice in less than a year, the DOJ has formally investigated Google for trying to anti-competitively extend its monopoly market power via a market agreement.
    • It is unusual for the DOJ to seriously investigate a single formal market agreement/settlement for anti-competitive behavior because normally antitrust lawyers can convince a company's leadership to stay away from the anti-competitive line that possibly could prompt a DOJ investigation and/or suit.
    • What is exceptionally unusual is for a company to propose two non-merger-related market agreements in less than a years time that prompt serious antitrust investigations from the DOJ.
  • Today, the DOJ Antitrust Division wrote a letter to the Federal Judge overseeing the Google Book Settlement deal "to inform the court that it has opened an antitrust investigation into the proposed agreement between Google and representatives of publishers and authors... we have determined that issues raised by the proposed settlement warrant further inquiry."

This is the second formal agreement in less than a year that Google has negotiated and drafted that has "crossed the line" prompting DOJ antitrust officials to have to formally and publicly investigate. 

Behavioral Advertising's New Swiss Cheese Privacy Proposal

The new industry-proposed "Self-Regulatory Principles for Behavioral Advertising" which Google publicly patted themselves on the back for today, conveniently do not apply to most all of Google's current advertising business. 

  • When one examines the fine print of the detailed document, it becomes clear that the new proposed self-regulatory privacy guidelines (which in fact are a significant improvement over the status quo) conveniently do not apply to contextual search advertising, the leading form of Internet advertising that Google dominates (per the DOJ), nor to contextual display advertising, the second-leading form of Internet advertising which Yahoo leads.  

As a big proponent of responsible self-regulation, I am disappointed when self-regulation is given a bad name when industry leaders badly game the system by conveniently self-defining themselves, for the most part, from being subject to much of the new self-regulatory guidelines.  

Why am I pointing out this arbitrage of privacy laws?

Pages

Q&A One Pager Debunking Net Neutrality Myths