The New York Times is picking up on the fact that Google's potential DoubleClick acquisition gets more difficult when you consider Performics, DoubleClick's search and affiliate marketing agency. In The Pangs of Two Becoming One, reporter Dan Mitchell notes that the DoubleClick deal is facing antitrust challenges from Microsoft and IBM (oh, the irony), as well as worries from privacy advocates. But the biggest challenge may well be what Google should do with Performics.
There's just no way that a conflict of interest would not arise, or at least the appearance of a conflict, which would be just as bad for Google. Every time a Performics client's site showed up at the top of the SERPs, competitors would cry foul. And every time a Performics client's site did not show up first, it would be assumed that Google is being too tough with those clients, and so those clients would eventually leave to find an agency that actually helped them improve their rank.
As we noted last week, Google appears to already be moving toward the possibility of selling off the division.