Barton Targets Google-Yahoo Partnership

Ranking Republican on House Energy & Commerce Committee Concerned with Consolidation in Online-Advertising Industry

A powerful Republican congressman is concerned about media consolidation and is looking for some answers.

Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas), the ranking Republican on the House Energy & Commerce Committee, wrote Yahoo CEO Jerry Yang to say he is concerned with consolidation in the online-advertising industry and how its partnership with Google could affect competition.

Google said last week that it would give Yahoo nonexclusive access to its AdSense ad-display technologies for search and content advertising -- translation, Google ads would run on Yahoo, too -- and work to make their respective instant-messaging services more interoperable.

Barton also said he was concerned about the impact on data storage, collection and privacy and asked Yang for a bunch of information. It included: which company made the first move in forming the partnership (names and dates, please); the names and titles of executives at his company who expressed concern that the partnership would result in a "monopoly in the online-search market [Barton cited unsealed court documents to that effect]"; what criteria Yahoo will use to decide on what pages Google's paid advertising will appear and whether the price advertisers paid affects the placement; and an explanation of the $800 million in additional revenue Yahoo predicted from the partnership.

Barton also weighed in back in December 2007, writing Google chairman Eric Schmidt with concerns about privacy issues involving the merger of Google and Internet advertiser DoubleClick.