Google can largely thank Apple for getting the feds to OK it acquisition of AdMob. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) today said it has closed its investigation into Google’s proposed acquisition of the mobile ad network company, concluding that it is unlikely to harm competition in the mobile advertising space.
In a statement, the FTC said its concerns ultimately were overshadowed by recent developments in the market, most notably a move by Apple to launch its own competing mobile ad network. The commission’s vote to close the investigation was 5-0.
“As a result of Apple’s entry (into the market), AdMob’s success to date on the iPhone platform is unlikely to be an accurate predictor of AdMob’s competitive significance going forward, whether AdMob is owned by Google or not,” the commission’s statement says.
In addition, a number of firms appear to be developing or acquiring smartphone platforms to better compete against Apple’s iPhone and Google’s Android, and these firms would have a strong incentive to facilitate competition among mobile advertising networks, the commission said.
In a blog post, AdMob founder and CEO Omar Hamoui expressed appreciation. “Over the past six months we’ve received a great deal of support from across the mobile industry – and we deeply appreciate it. Our focus is now on working with the team at Google to quickly close the deal,” he said. “Once that happens, we will finally get to the fun part – connecting our teams and products to find ways to better serve our customers. Stay tuned.”
Since Google announced in November its plans to acquire AdMob and Apple bought Quattro Wireless early in the year, competitors in the mobile ad network space like Millennial Media, Jumptap and Greystripe mostly have applauded the moves as validating the market opportunity. But they also caution about keeping it open.
“As one of the very few key market makers in the mobile advertising space, we applaud the FTC’s decision today to approve the Google/AdMob deal,” said Paul Palmieri, president and CEO of Millennial Media, in a statement. “Although Millennial Media didn’t have a direct dog in this fight, we were a willing participant in industry data and information sharing with the FTC. And one of the largest outcomes of this deal is that the FTC recognized how competitive this market is and can be – provided it remains an open ecosystem. The burden is now on regulators, and Apple in particular, to preserve an open and competitive market that will provide the most choice and value for developers and consumers, no matter how tempting it is to do otherwise.”
Independent ad networks also point out their multi-platform approaches support myriad operating systems and platforms. “The world’s largest media company has announced that it is ‘mobile first,’ and we expect the rest of the market will also quickly recognize the centrality of mobile because of the enormous potential of mobile advertising to engage with consumers,” said Jumptap CEO Dan Olschwang, adding that an open approach to mobile advertising is better for everyone. “At Jumptap, we are platform agnostic, working with our many advertisers in reaching their target audience on whatever device. We also think that this will not be the last of many interesting acquisitions, mergers and partnerships.”
“Google’s acquisition of AdMob is a great validation of the mobile advertising space, specifically the focus on in-application which is the dominant reason for the acquisition,” said Michael Chang, CEO for mobile ad network Greystripe, in a statement. “With AdMob and Quattro now both being acquired, Greystripe sees great opportunity as the leading independent mobile advertising network with an unbiased commitment to all major mobile platforms.”
The FTC says it will continue to monitor the mobile marketplace to make sure a competitive environment exists.