FTCReading the blogosphere today it would be reasonable to think that Barack Obama has nominated Satan to lead the Federal Trade Commission. His name is actually Jon Leibowitz and all the talk about a "day of reckoning" for the online ad business will not be at the top of his agenda.

Leibowitz is a known anti-piracy advocate (good) and an aggressive proponent of regulating online advertising (maybe not so good). He made a speech on Feb. 12 while he was deeply into his job as one of the FTC commissioners and investigating behavioral targeting. In that speech he used the phrase "day of reckoning" about online ad regulation and although it certainly has a promise of biblical wrath, he will not smite this business.

Here's why. He has some much more important things to do, like be Obama's trustbuster. Leibowitz has opined as much if not more about anti-trust issues as he has about the Internet advertising business. In fact as an FTC commissioner (not the chairman) he addressed the pharmaceutical business as much as the Internet business.

He doesn't like monopolies, and now he's paying paid to make sure they aren't perpetuated. So Google, start worrying. WalMart, start worrying.  Drug companies, worry more than Google and WalMart. Ad networks, behave yourselves.

Leibowitz will focus on activities that stimulate competition and therefore jobs. That's what his boss promised in the election. His interest in online advertising has just moved down on his to do list.


Published 4 March, 2009 by John Gaffney

John Gaffney is US Editor at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter

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