As legislators consider Florida SB 262/HB 1547, legislation targeting large data-driven digital advertising platforms like Google, Facebook, and Amazon, small businesses statewide are voicing strong opposition to the proposal. More than 100 business leaders sent a letter asking legislators to oppose the bills in order to “preserve the current digital ad system that works so well for small businesses and small business owners.” Diego Sampaio and Morgan Overholt, from Orlando and Miami, were in Tallahassee urging lawmakers to ensure the digital ads marketplace remains effective and affordable.
“Florida legislators must recognize that giant advertising platforms are not the enemy,” said Diego Sampaio, who met with lawmakers and owns Globalfy in Orlando, an international business development company. “They are foundational partners for millions of small businesses like mine, and we will not be as successful if bad laws break the digital advertising system.”
The bills, sponsored by Senator Susan Bradley and Representative Fiona McFarland, would create the most regulatory data-restricting laws in the country. The proposed restrictions target Google, Facebook, and Amazon’s digital advertising platforms, but small businesses argue that small businesses will get hit the hardest.
A recent study by the Data Catalyst Institute documents the overwhelming importance of digital advertising for small businesses, with 82% of small business advertisers reporting that digital ads are a better way to reach new customers than traditional ads, and 78% reporting that digital ads generate more sales and revenue than traditional advertising.
“Digital advertising is how small businesses compete against the bigger players and their massive marketing budgets,” says Beth Egan, Associate Professor of Advertising at Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. “Florida lawmakers are mistaken if they think restricting data and digital advertising will hurt only big tech companies. It is indisputable that the most pain will be felt by small businesses that buy affordable digital ads to find new customers.”
The McFarland/Bradley bill would regulate advertising uses of non-personal, non-sensitive data critical for advertising to work properly.
The legislation would regulate:
Consumer device data needed so that advertisements render correctly, for example on an iPhone, Samsung, or iPad.
Language preference data needed to deliver advertisements in consumers’ preferred language.
Location data needed so that local businesses’ advertisements are delivered only to people nearby who realistically might become customers.
Search query data that documents users’ actual interests and anonymously generates relevant advertising that is both affordable and valuable.
Overholt publishes three tourism blogs and one small business blog. She sells digital ads, for example, on HeyOrlando.com, to businesses that want to reach audiences interested in Orlando tourism.
“I love Florida. It’s beautiful, free, and historically pro-business,” said Overholt. “I’m both disappointed and surprised that Florida legislators would take such a California-style approach to over-regulating how small businesses find customers and earn a decent living.”
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