Google’s $3.1bn acquisition of advertising group DoubleClick has been approved by the Federal Trade Commission in the US.

Commissioners voted 4-1 in favour of allowing the deal to proceed, believing that the merger will not seriously affect competition in the online ad market.

According to the FTC:
“Because the evidence did not support the theories of potential competitive harm, there was no basis on which to seek to impose conditions on this merger. We want to be clear, however, that we will closely watch these markets and, should Google engage in unlawful tying or other anticompetitive conduct, the Commission intends to act quickly.”

Before the deal can go through, Google still needs approval from the EU, which has been concerned about both privacy issues, as well as the potential dominance which the search engine would have over the online ad market.

Publishers and advertisers have expressed concerns that the deal would allow Google to tap into the data from DoubleClick’s ad system to manipulate ad prices.

Google’s Eric Schmidt:
“The FTC’s strong support sends a clear message: this acquisition poses no risk to competition and will benefit consumers, we hope that the European Commission will soon reach the same conclusion, and we are confident that this deal will deliver more relevant ads for consumers, more choices for advertisers, and more opportunities for website publishers.”

However, the EU’s ongoing investigation of the proposed deal is expected to be stricter then the FTC’s, and Google still faces the threat of lawsuits from privacy groups in the US. It is expected to make a decision early next year.