The Real Reason Google's $750 Million AdMob Buy Is Getting Held Up

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The real reason the Federal Trade Comission is taking a second look at Google’s $750 million AdMob acquisition has little to do with Google (GOOG), whiny consumer groups, competitive issues, or even Microsoft. The hold-up is thanks to the FTC’s own Washington D.C. turf war with the U.S. Justice Department. Or at least, that’s one story the pro-Googlers out there are spinning.

The pro-Googlers’ theory goes something like this:

  • The FTC wants to make sure it becomes the go-to agency for regulatory issues concerning the mobile space, not the DOJ.
  • A second review of Google’s AdMob acquisition helps it do that, because, as part of a second review, the FTC will get to interview any company in the mobile ad advertising space it wants.
  • Through this field research, the agency will learn tons about a space mostly made up of private companies that do not have to disclose their revenues.
  • This means the FTC will be the agency with reliable market share figures.
  • The idea is that then, the FTC would actually be the only agency with enough information to decide the fate of future mobile advertising mergers and deals — of which they expect to be plenty (Industry watchers assume Microsoft will follow Google’s AdMob acquistion by buying a startup like Millenial Media, Quatro wireless, Grey Stripe, or JumpTap).

Remember, that’s just one theory — and one we’ve heard from people friendly to Google.

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