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Why FTC’s Behavioral-Ad Principles Are a Big Deal – Privacy-Publicacy Fault-line Part IV

The FTC staff's revised behavioral advertising principles make it clear that the FTC understands the Internet’s growing privacy-publicacy fault-line. The FTC’s new guidelines are all about tackling the growing problem of unauthorized publicacy – meaning the tracking, collecting and “mashing-up” of information consumers reasonably expected to be kept private.  (“Publicacy” is the opposite of privacy.)

  • Privacy-Publicacy Fault-line Part I, II, III.


Why are the FTC’s new guidelines a much bigger deal than most appreciate?


First, the new guidelines put a new and brighter privacy regulatory spotlight on Google, the world’s dominant behavioral-advertiser, and to a lesser extent, Yahoo, Google’s distant #2 competitor.

Implications of a Search Monopoly for Content/Applications

The content and applications industries have yet to connect-the-dots of the U.S. Department of Justice concluding search advertising is a monopoly and that Google has pro-actively sought to further its monopoly in search advertising and search advertising syndication.  

  • The long term implications of this DOJ conclusion are sweeping and profound for content and apps providers.  

Simply, if the DOJ believes Google is a monopoly, then it follows that DOJ would believe it is illegal under antitrust law for Google to proactively disadvantage its competitors’ content/applications by favoring Google-owned content/applications over competitors’ content/applications on Google’s search advertising monopoly platform.

The gravitational pull destroying traditional journalism -- the Internet black hole of scale

Tribune's bankruptcy is fresh evidence that the recession is accelerating the demise of journalism precipitated in large part by the advent of the Internet. And where is the Internet taking the journalism profession and business? Not towards the utopian citizen journalism of conventional wisdom, but inexorably towards the gravitational pull of the black hole of the Internet -- scale.  

  • To understand the future of the journalism business, and most content businesses for that matter, one has to understand The Internet Black Hole of Scale which is comprised of:
    • Audience size and reach:
    • Advertiser network breadth and depth;
    • Publishing breadth, depth and timeliness;
    • Sales/targetting data volume, integration and specificity; and
    • Infrastructure platform economies of scale and scope.  

So why can't the journalism profession/business compete long-term with The Black Hole of Internet Scale?

Yang's "open" legacy is being overlooked going forward

Most are missing the lasting implications and legacy of Yahoo CEO Jerry Yang's signature "Open" strategy, in all the media chatter about his demise and his successor. 

Yang set Yahoo on a new and different strategic trajectory philosophically and culturally -- i.e. that of the open source movement -- which is strategically Google-aligned and Microsoft-opposed.

  • As Yang said in a statement reported in the Washington Post, "it was important to re-envision the business for a different era to drive more effective growth. Having set Yahoo! on a new, more open path..." [bold added]
  • In the WSJ today was another example of Yang's open legacy and open source/wisdom of crowds philosophy and culture that his successor will inherit: "Mr. Yang's preference for letting employees reach consensus rather than make tough decisions himself..."

This means the cultural momentum and trajectory at Yahoo is to remain close to its "open source" philosophical ally Google regardless of the DOJ decision to oppose the Google-Yahoo ad partnership and despite its investor-correct public statements to the contrary about Microsoft.

Jerry Yang's legacy will not only be opposing shareholder interests in scuttling the Microsoft offer, but also the under-appreciated 'open strategy' he implemented that is designed to continue to thwart a Microsoft bid going forward. 

Washington Post: DOJ was right to block Google-Yahoo

Kudos to the Washington Post for an excellent editorial: "Searching for Dollars: The Justice Department rightly opposed a Google-Yahoo deal."


Responding to more personal attacks on my views -- from People for Internet Responsibility no less!

Thanks to a competitive Internet I am grateful to be able to freely respond to personal attacks on me and my pro-Internet competition views.


Mr. Weinstein of, People for Internet Responsibility, recently criticized me in his blog, which is his right, however, he did it initially in a manner which appears to be at odds with how Mr. Weinstein has suggested everyone should responsibly conduct themselves on the Internet. In particular, I reference the statement below from PFIR’s website, which is the concluding paragraph of why Mr. Weinstein formed PFIR.

Google's in denial over Google-Yahoo antitrust problems -- is recidivism in Google's future?

Google's CEO Eric Schmidt is in deep denial over the antitrust implications of Google being blocked by the DOJ from brazenly trying to collude to divy up the search market with its biggest competitor Yahoo.

In an interview with the New York Times' Miguel Helft, Mr. Schmidt made a couple of very brazen assertions that will obviously concern DOJ antitrust officials and State Attorneys General interested in preserving Internet competition going forward.

First, Helft asked about the proposed Google-Yahoo deal: "...was it a mistake for Google to propose the deal in the first place?"

An Unrepentant Google Basically Taunts DOJ/State AGs to File an Antitrust Suit in the Future

Google remains its own worst enemy.


After dodging a certain DOJ antitrust suit from the most lenient antitrust enforcer in the modern era by withdrawing from the Yahoo ad agreement, Google’s CEO essentially spit at DOJ/State AG prosecutors by publicly and gratuitously saying: Google would have beaten the DOJ in court, nothing has changed, and that they were happy they reached out to Yahoo.


Google’s unrepentant stance was captured well in the New York Times article by Miguel Helft: Google and Yahoo Say Deal Would Have Survived a Suit.” nailed Google-Yahoo demise

After reading most all of the coverage of the demise of the Google-Yahoo ad partnership, I wanted to flag what I thought was the best, which was in the section of the New York Times today by Constantine Courcoulas and Robert Cyran.

  • See this link  to the story, but be sure to skip the first unrelated story at the top and go the second story "Google Backs Off."

I couldn't agree more with it -- you can see why by checking out one of my earlier posts: "Why Google wins from Google-Yahoo postponements -- lessons from Machiavelli."  

DOJ explains why it would have sued to block Google-Yahoo if Google had not withdrawn

The DOJ released a statement explaining why it would have sued to block the Google-Yahoo ad partnership had Google not backed out of the arrangement.

In a nutshell, the DOJ said it was prepared to sue in Federal Court to block the proposed Google-Yahoo ad partnership because the DOJ concluded that:

  • The proposed agreement was anti-competitive and illegal;
  • Google has dominant market power in two "relevant anti-trust markets":
    • Internet search advertising, and
    • Internet search syndication;
  • Yahoo would have become a collaborator with Google rather than a competitor "materially reducing important competitive rivalry between" Google and Yahoo.

Bottom line:

Google has hit a very real antitrust wall. More importantly it is now front and center on the DOJ's radar screen as an aspiring Internet advertising monopolist willing to push the antitrust envelope -- unless the DOJ steps in to preserve Internet competition. 

While Google may not realize it, the world is now a very different place for Google -- it no longer has free rein to do whatever it pleases.



Q&A One Pager Debunking Net Neutrality Myths