Initiative for Competitive Online Marketplaces

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This article is part of the Center for Media & Democracy's spotlight on front groups and corporate spin.

The Initiative for Competitive Online Marketplaces is a UK-based group created by Burson-Marsteller (B-M) on behalf of Microsoft to campaign against Google.

Alarmed at Google's proposed purchase of the internet marketing firm DoubleClick, Microsoft aims to stoke opposition to the deal. B-M sent emails "to a number of top UK businesses," reports The Observer, urging board members "to raise the issue of Google's dominance of search engines with politicians, regulators and the media." The email, from Jonathan Dinkeldein, also invited companies "to join a new organisation -- Initiative for Competitive Online Marketplaces -- which in the next few weeks will make a series of announcements on Google, internet privacy and copyright." Dinkeldein later admitted that the group was formed by Microsoft, though his email did not disclose Microsoft's role. In the U.S., B-M pitched cautionary stories on the Google-DoubleClick deal. [1]

The Wall Street Journal received an email from B-M warning about "what is not known about Google's handling of personal data and their related privacy practices." The email, which also didn't disclose the Microsoft connection, went on to say "it would be a powerful consumer service to delve into these issues with journalistic vigor." [2]

Following the reports, the group stated what was already known. "Microsoft is ICOMP’s initial sponsor. Burson-Marsteller acts as its Secretariat," it states.[3]


All of the contacts listed on the group's website work for B-M. These are:

Contact Details

London, UK

Other SourceWatch Resources


  1. Nick Mathiason, "Microsoft in row over lobby tactics", The Observer (UK), September 23, 2007.
  2. Robert A. Guth and Charles Forelle "Microsoft Goes Behind the Scenes", Wall Street Jounal, September 24, 2007.
  3. "About Us", accessed March 2008.