In addition to lobbying regulators and pitching reporters about the dangers posed by Google’s DoubleClick acquisition, Microsoft is also taking a less direct route, the WSJ reports ($).
[Microsoft-contracted PR agency Burson-Marsteller] urged Internet companies to become signatories on an online petition for a more “transparent and competitive Internet,” according to the pitches. It directed the companies to a Web site, www.i-comp.org, and provided user names and passwords to log in.
The pitches cited a number of groups and an individual who had signed on to the effort. The pitches didn’t disclose that Burson was working for Microsoft, Google’s largest rival.
Josh Gottheimer, an executive vice president at Burson, said the firm was hired by Microsoft to set up i-comp.org as a “discussion forum” for issues of privacy and competition. He said the firm doesn’t disclose its clients as a general practice, but said in some cases companies were told Microsoft was a member of the group. He said Burson — a unit of Young & Rubicam, which is owned by WPP Group PLC — pitched the effort to more than 100 companies and organisations.
Meanwhile Microsoft says its purchase of aQuantive — made after getting outbid on DoubleClick — is already bearing fruit. It says it has added 20 clients, including IAC’s (IACI) CollegeHumor, in the last six weeks. AP WSJ