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IAB To FTC In New Filing: Benefits Of Data-Driven Advertising Disprove Baseless Petition To Ban It

Internet Advertising Bureau Announces First Round Results of Ad Revenue Sales Reporting Program

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In a powerful response highlighting the benefits of data-driven advertising, the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) today fired back at a recent petition to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to ban “surveillance advertising.”

“The Commission should recognize the Petition for what it is, a self-interested stunt manufactured by competitors” seeking to “declare the commercial Internet itself an unfair business practice,” writes the IAB, describing the increased competition, economic growth, improved consumer experience and societal good that data-driven advertising has delivered.

IAB represents over 700 leading media companies, brands, marketers, agencies, and technology companies accounting for 86 percent of online advertising expenditures in the U.S.  Digital advertising and other Internet-related activities represent an estimated 17 million jobs and helped to contribute $2.45 trillion to the economy in 2020, or 12 percent of GDP. Almost 2.1 million e-commerce companies, many of them small businesses using digital advertising to broaden their geographic reach, serve more customers and lower costs, generated $715 billion in revenue in 2020, according to the latest research.

IAB notes that the organization behind the FTC petition fails to disclose its funders who may have commercial motives for demanding anti-competitive regulations from the agency, and Congress never intended for the FTC’s petition process to be used by companies as a weapon to harm their industry competitors.

Contrary to various “untruths, distortions, and baseless assertions contained in the Petition,” if data-driven advertising were to be eliminated, between $32 and $39 billion in annual revenue for online publishers, supporting independent and local news, would vanish. Data-driven advertising has also created entirely new industries including podcasting, gaming, streaming video and music. Studies show U.S. consumers receive an annual value of over $30,000 per year in ad-subsidized free content and services, translating to over $10 trillion in annual value for all Americans. Rather than a price hike on consumers and advertisers, as the petitioner claims without evidence, data-driven advertising offers a low-cost alternative to traditional advertising that has opened the American economy to a wide variety of direct-to-consumer brands and increased consumer choice.

Announcing IAB’s response, IAB CEO David Cohen said his members support a federal privacy law to fix a patchwork of state laws complicating industry compliance and consumer data protection. “Some of the most exciting technological advances today are occurring in the field of data privacy,” he said. “Basic ground rules would be helpful. But simply banning data use and customized advertising, a practice dating long before the Internet, would be a devastating blow to jobs, economic growth and innovation.”

To join IAB and support its public affairs efforts, visit

About IAB

The Interactive Advertising Bureau empowers the media and marketing industries to thrive in the digital economy. Its membership comprises more than 700 leading media companies, brands, agencies, and the technology firms responsible for selling, delivering, and optimizing digital ad marketing campaigns. The trade group fields critical research on interactive advertising, while also educating brands, agencies, and the wider business community on the importance of digital marketing. In affiliation with the IAB Tech Lab, IAB develops technical standards and solutions. IAB is committed to professional development and elevating the knowledge, skills, expertise, and diversity of the workforce across the industry. Through the work of its public policy office in Washington, D.C., the trade association advocates for its members and promotes the value of the interactive advertising industry to legislators and policymakers. Founded in 1996, IAB is headquartered in New York City.

IAB Media Contacts
Kate Tumino / Brittany Tibaldi
212-896-1252 / 347-487-6794
[email protected]/ [email protected]