The WSJ (sub req’d) is reporting that Google is now the potential lead contender to buy DoubleClick:
Google Inc. has emerged along with Microsoft Corp. as a contender to buy DoubleClick Inc., presenting competition that stands to increase the final sale price of the online-advertising company, people familiar with the situation said.
Microsoft has appeared less likely to win the bidding as the potential price for the company surpassed $2 billion, according to the people familiar with the situation. But it is possible that Microsoft will counter.
The acquisition would clearly benefit Google with brand advertisers, just as it would Microsoft. An acquisition by Google would sound alarm bells in Sunnyvale (Yahoo!) and Redmond. Microsoft would be seen as faltering and Yahoo! would be seen has more vulnerable on the brand advertising front.
And there’s more coming this week . . .