Google buys advertising network DoubleClick


DoubleClick was one of the first companies set up to sell display advertising on the web. Set up in 1996, it went public in 1998, and in 1999 merged with the data collection company Abacus Direct. In response to a 2001 US Federal Trade Commission investigation of the proposed merger, DoubleClick promised to keep those two databases separate; and in 2005 when the private equity firm Hellman & Friedman acquired it, that firm promised to operate the company as two separate divisions. In April 2007, Google acquired DoubleClick for $3.1 billion in cash. The merger was approved by both the EU's regulators and the FTC on the basis that it was unlikely to lessen competition even though by then Google had become dominant in pay-per-click internet advertising. The FTC held that privacy issues were not relevant to an antitrust review. At the acquisition, Google founder Sergey Brin said privacy would be the company's "number one priority" when considering new advertising products.

In the summer of 2016, Google erased the line in its privacy policy that promised to keep DoubleClick's database of web browsing records separate from the names and personally identifiable information Google collects from Gmail and other login accounts.

Writer: Diane Bartz, Julia Angwin

Publication: Reuters, ProPublica

Related learning resources
Target Profile