Digital Advertising

Digital advertising issues surge to top of small business concerns

Internet for Growth Fights to Protect Ad-Supported Internet
Digital advertising

Amidst growing attacks on digital advertising in Washington, D.C., nationwide small business coalition Internet for Growth has grown its membership of entrepreneurs, startups, and content creators to nearly 2,000 individuals across all 50 states, reflecting the vital importance of digital advertising and the ad-supported internet to innovation, jobs, and economic growth on Main Street.

The coalition, launched in 2022 to raise awareness of digital advertising’s importance to low costs for small businesses, greater competition in the marketplace, and increased choice and convenience for consumers, also announced today it has organized more than 50 meetings this year with members of Congress and their staff, providing critical perspective on data privacy and other legislation and regulation that could have serious consequences for every American.

“Internet for Growth supports data privacy, but Congress and regulators are failing to strike the right balance, restricting or eliminating essential data and digital advertising tools that save small businesses time and money, enabling them to invest in their businesses and employees, serve more customers, and grow,” said Internet for Growth Executive Director Brendan Thomas. “Polls show consumers prefer relevant ads and a personalized online experience. We’re happy lawmakers are listening.”

“The average internet user receives thousands of dollars of free or low-cost ad-supported content and services each year, but legislation like the American Data Privacy and Protection Act (ADDPA) and the AMERICA Act would raise costs for millions of working and middle-class people, rewarding the same big tech companies policymakers are seeking to punish,” said Thomas.

Last week, Internet for Growth hosted events in Spokane, Washington, and Canton, Ohio, spreading a positive message about digital advertising’s under-appreciated role supporting local communities. The events attracted area congressional staff, government leaders, and their constituents. In May, coalition members flew to Washington, D.C., to urge House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers to improve federal data privacy legislation. This year, retailers, restaurateurs, realtors, beauty experts, health care professionals, technologists and more, have met personally with Senators Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Michael Bennet (D-CO), as well as Representatives Troy Balderson (D-OH-12), Brittany Pettersen (D-CO-7), Max Miller (R-OH-7), Joe Morelle (D-NY-25), Jason Crow (D-CO-6), and Bill Johnson (R-OH-6) to urge Congress to protect personalized, data-driven digital advertising.

Internet for Growth also announced its Advisory Council this year to guide outreach to policymakers, the press and public, and avert a severe impact on the economy from misguided bills in Congress, as high inflation and interest rates persist. The ADDPA, AMERICA Act, and “commercial surveillance” rules from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) that describe digital advertising, marketing, and the internet itself, as widespread harms, could be devasting to opportunities for people of all backgrounds.

“Lawmakers pushing these anti-advertising bills seem eager to punish a few big Silicon Valley companies whose politics they don’t care for. Let’s hope they pause long enough to realize it’s mom-and-pop businesses who’ll end up paying the price,” writes Marc Alessi, a New York small business leader, in the Long Island Press. “Startups’ ability to carefully and narrowly target ads to the customers who are most interested and attracted to what they’re offering is one of the greatest equalizers allowing digital Davids to compete with global Goliaths.”

“Running a small business is an uphill battle,” writes Chariese Blue, owner of Urban Central Marketplace, in Colorado Politics. “I’m competing against global behemoths with nearly limitless access to capital… And yet, policymakers in Washington, D.C., are poised to make the climb even steeper, by undermining one of the few equalizers left that help small businesses compete against large chains: targeted digital advertising.”

Internet for Growth has delivered thousands of letters to Congress from concerned constituents, urging federal representatives to rethink digital advertising policy. The coalition is planning more events in Washington, D.C., and across the U.S. in 2024. “The vast majority of over 31 million small businesses in this country depend on digital advertising,” said Thomas. “We’re encouraging Congress to keep the internet free and open, a home to entrepreneurialism, commerce, and creativity.”

Internet for Growth, an initiative of the Interactive Advertising Bureau, promotes the transformative role the advertising-supported internet plays in empowering America’s small businesses, helping entrepreneurs bring their ideas to life. Supported by a diverse community of over 700 IAB members including marketers, agencies, publishers, platforms, and ad tech providers, as well as hundreds of small businesses and creators, we highlight the benefits digital advertising delivers to local economies, expanding opportunities for innovators to reach markets far beyond their neighborhoods. Our work ensures people understand the limitless opportunity the internet provides for creativity and commerce, fair competition, and connecting with consumers on mutually shared values and interests, no matter their background or geography.

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