Google have been holding it's growth rate and buying companies at premium prices like I have posted in my previous posts. Lots of them have been providing Google with more headache than superior gain. YouTube, for example, was purchased $1.65 billion dollars while it is suffering from billion dollar law suite from multiple sources as it have been springs up quite often in the news. Forbes have written a fairly elaborate article on the possible trouble that Google might get into from purchase of the Double Click: Google's TroubleClick.
Not only DoubleClick's clients possibly compete against Google, but Google's access to user's web browse behavior tracking from DoubleClick can have privacy issues for users. With the Google's huge search and behavioral algorithm combined with DoubleClick's user behavioral model, your whole privacy can be compromised.
"Now that DoubleClick has lost its independence, it's an uncomfortable feeling," says Andy Mitchell, managing director of AdLINK, a British online advertising network that has used DoubleClick's ad service. He says he is considering dropping the service if the deal goes forward and thinks other networks may do the same.
Mitchell says that DoubleClick has always promised ad networks that their data would not be shared or used to work with advertisers and publishers directly. He worries that trust will be diminished now that the company is owned by a possible competitor.
Jeff Green, chief operations office of DoubleClick competitor AdECN, argues that content providers will think twice about dealing with Google. He also predicts that ad networks will fret over working with a company that has direct ties to publishers and advertisers. "They're afraid that Google will want to cut out the middleman," Green says. "As an ad network, you'd be partnering with someone owned by another business basically dedicated to killing you."
Green says he's spoken with six ad networks that have expressed misgivings over the DoubleClick buyout. And he's particularly concerned about the company's new ad exchange, a Nasdaq-style online advertising marketplace announced earlier this month. "Now it's as if Nasdaq owned Merrill Lynch," Green says. "You can't be both a referee and a player in the game."
On top of this long list of conflict of interest problems, DoubleClick also brings Google its history of user-end privacy controversies. The advertising service was one of the first to use "cookies," the often-criticized small files downloaded to users' computers to track their surfing. In 1999, DoubleClick tried to create a database of user profiles that would include personal information like names and addresses. That threat to consumer privacy unleashed a storm of protest against the company, as well as a Federal Trade Commission investigation and a class-action lawsuit, which was settled only in 2002 when DoubleClick agreed to make user data anonymous. Now the company also allows users to opt out of receiving cookies.
But privacy advocates like Alissa Cooper, a policy analyst at the Center for Democracy and Technology, worry that DoubleClick's privacy issues could resurface under a new owner. And given that the new owner is Google, a company with an enormous stock of private data in its own right, the potential for information invasion is even greater.
Cooper worries that DoubleClick's massive amount of private data about users' online behavior could be linked to Google's reams of search data to create detailed profiles of individuals. Privacy watchdogs have speculated that both Google's and DoubleClick's databases would be vulnerable to data leaks and ripe for abuse by a prying government. A combined information pool would be even more dangerous.