The Association of National Advertisers, a high profile trade group that represents “400 companies with 9,000 brands,” has sent a letter to Assistant US Attorney General Thomas Barnett in which the group objects to the pending Google-Yahoo search advertising deal.
According to the Wall Street Journal:
ANA’s board, made up of well-known marketing executives including Brian Perkins, Johnson & Johnson’s vice president of corporate affairs; Stephen Quinn, chief marketing officer at Wal-Mart Stores Inc; and Betsy Lazar, executive director of media and advertising for General Motors Corp., approved the group’s move.
Expressing a concern held by a number of US advertising executives, the ANA letter says
[T]hat a Google-Yahoo partnership will control 90 percent of search advertising inventory and states ANA’s concerns that the partnership will likely diminish competition, increase concentration of market power, limit choices currently available and potentially raise prices to advertisers for high quality, affordable search advertising
The politically powerful group also raised anti-trust concerns regarding Google’s acquisition of DoubleClick. But that deal was eventually approved.
Google and Yahoo have taken the position that official Justice Department review is not implicated by the deal’s terms and they are simply voluntarily cooperating with the Department of Justice investigation.
There’s more discussion on Techmeme.
Postscript From Danny Sullivan: Those looking for an actual copy of the letter can keep waiting. I contacted ANA for it and was told the letter was sent out “privately.” When I pointed out that a letter sent to a public body was going to become part of the public record, I was told that this was up to the Department Of Justice to do. Strange — why doesn’t ANA just publish the letter?