New FTC Commissioners Ferguson and Holyoak Must Protect Digital Advertising for Small Businesses

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Internet for Growth, the nationwide small business coalition supporting digital advertising, is urging two new members of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) – Andrew Ferguson and Melissa Holyoak, both confirmed by the U.S. Senate this week – to protect digital advertising for small businesses.

“Congratulations to Commissioners Ferguson and Holyoak. With digital advertising issues surging to the forefront of FTC priorities, we hope you’ll consider the millions of start up opportunities and jobs, economic growth, and consumer benefits digital advertising provides, especially for small businesses,” said Internet for Growth Executive Director Brendan Thomas. “Many of our members would be unable to advertise at all without digital advertising, so as you consider rules to protect consumers and promote competition, please remember that data and digital advertising save Americans time and money, increase competition and choice, and break down barriers to opportunities for people of all backgrounds.”

Internet for Growth has warned that sprawling new internet regulations would destroy opportunities for small businesses to compete against big companies and harm their customers, who benefit from timely, relevant ads on social media, websites, and other platforms. In an open letter to the FTC, retailers, realtors, contractors, publishers, and more, describe their reliance on free and low-cost digital advertising and marketing tools, which an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Commercial Surveillance and Data Security could severely disrupt.

“Small businesses have suffered immensely over the past few years due to the twin challenges of COVID-19 and surging inflation,” they write. “But some of the proposed changes could gut the effectiveness and efficiency of digital advertising… Increased costs and likely loss of customers would be devastating for many small businesses and millions of Americans we employ.”

The FTC has operated without a full commission for over a year. “We hope the addition of two new commissioners will create a more balanced approach to digital advertising,” said Thomas. “Painting the entire internet, including digital advertising, as ‘commercial surveillance,’ could impair what have become basic necessities for small businesses and anyone accustomed to easy-to-use, accessible online communications and commercial services, everything from email to video streaming.”

In addition to advocating for digital advertising at the FTC, Internet for Growth has sent tens of thousands of letters to members of Congress and organized dozens of meetings with federal lawmakers weighing bills to eliminate personalized advertising, such the Banning Surveillance Advertising Act and The American Data Privacy and Protection Act. Internet for Growth supports national data privacy legislation to simplify a costly patchwork of state data privacy laws, one that avoids heavy fines and penalties for small businesses without the same resources as large companies to comply with complex or vague regulations, and which preserves their ability to safely use data and digital advertising to innovate and grow. Internet for Growth has also raised issues with bills such as the AMERICA Act that would dismantle advertising networks helping small publishers to earn income.