Let’s play connect the dots with a number of recent announcements that together reveal the real battleground for the future of media:

Doubleclick announces that it is setting up a “a Nasdaq-like exchange for the buying and selling of digital advertisements” Google announces that it is extending its AdWords marketplace to TV AOL announces that Advertising.com will provide the advertising platform for the new News Corp/NBC Universal online video platform A number of top media buying agencies are trying to kill the ANA-supported Ebay Media Marketplace because it “commoditizes buying and selling and moves away from the traditional face-to-face, deal-making process”
See the pattern here? If all Google had done was make a great search engine, there would be no cover stories about world dominance. What Google achieved is unique in the history of media companies — not only did they perfect a new market for advertising, they found a way to control it.

Finally, it has dawned on the rest the media/technology world what the real game is. Isn’t it clear now why Microsoft wants to buy DoubleClick — and why Google may try to head them off at the pass?

The media business is no longer about creating or even distributing content. It’s about controlling the platforms that create a marketplace for content and advertising. What is search but one big marketplace for content? Same with YouTube.

While content and advertising will probably never be reduced to the level of pork bellies, as with securities trading, it’s only a matter of time before all media “transactions” are handled by a handful of platforms.