Small businesses fight back against anti-digital advertising bill

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Big Tech can take the hit. Small businesses can't.

In the last three days, small businesses throughout Florida have voiced strong opposition to bills (SB 262/HB 1547) that target large data-driven digital advertising platforms, but which the business owners fear would result in drastic changes to affordable online advertising they need and rely on.

Today, more than 100 business owners delivered a letter asking lawmakers to oppose the bills in order to “preserve the current digital ad system that works so well for small businesses.” Earlier this week, small businesses from Miami and Orlando were in Tallahassee carrying the same message in meetings with legislators.

According to the small business owners who met with legislators, the bills, sponsored by Sen. Jennifer Bradley and Rep. Fiona McFarland, would create the most data-restricting regulatory laws in the country.

The proposed restrictions would directly impact Google, Facebook, and Amazon’s digital advertising platforms, but the small business letter asserts that those companies “will be fine. It’s small businesses that are really going to suffer.”

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,” according to Beth Egan, Associate Professor of Advertising at Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, and a former advertising professional with 25 years of experience.

“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.”

After an early flurry of activity, the House bill seems stalled in the Commerce Committee, but the Senate bill is scheduled to be heard by the Rules Committee on Monday. As expected, the digital advertising platforms are aggressively lobbying to amend the bills, but what surprises legislators is the grassroots small business pushback.

The legislation differs from other states’ consumer privacy laws because it would regulate advertising uses of benign types of data that are so obviously necessary to deliver high-quality advertising, such as:

—Consumer device data needed so that advertisements render correctly, for example on an iPhone, Android, or iPad.

—Language preference data needed to deliver advertisements in consumers’ preferred language.

—Location data 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.

Diego Sampaio of Orlando owns and operates Globalfy, an international business development service used by thousands of small businesses worldwide. Sampaio told legislators this week that more than 50% of his business subscriptions are directly tied to digital ads, and that losing the ability to advertise to the people who want his services would be devastating.

“Florida legislators must recognize that giant advertising platforms are not the enemy,” said Sampaio. “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.”

Morgan Overholt of Miami owns Morgan Media, which publishes three tourism blogs and one small business blog. Overholt spent two days in Tallahassee explaining to legislators how her blogs, such as, use digital advertising to build readership of people interested in visiting Orlando and sell ads to businesses that want to reach the traveling audience.

“I love Florida. It’s beautiful, free, and historically pro-business. 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,” she said.

Staff Reports


  • DeSantis is more dangerous than Trump

    April 20, 2023 at 2:40 pm

    Florida legislators, as well as the Florida governor are out of touch with Floridians and business. The attacks against Disney the attack against the LGBTQ community he attacks against business. He attacks against blacks the attacks against Jews.

    This is not what Florida or America stands for. We are not a fascist state or a country. We are supposed to be a free country and a free state.

    And I believe certain issues that are so impactful should be referendums on the ballot not made up by a bunch of out of touch, legislator, and politicians. They do everything for political theater.

  • SteveHC

    April 20, 2023 at 7:24 pm

    Once AGAIN, Floridian Republican politicians insist on wasting time and money on trying to push legislation that addresses non-existent “problems”. They collectively are by far the largest group of “make-work” people I’ve ever seen ANYWHERE in this country.

Comments are closed.


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