When Mom and Pop Shops Go Digital, or Why Small Digital Businesses Embody the American Dream
This week, IAB brought together 44 small publishers from 18 states to visit Capitol Hill for the IAB Fourth Annual Long Tail Alliance ‘Fly-In’.
While much attention in the digital ecosystem is paid to the larger players, a growing and vital part of this world are the small businesses. These small shops are often at the cutting edge of breakthroughs in information and entertainment, and they truly represent the sort of self-empowerment that we value as Americans. By convening members of IAB’s Long Tail Alliance, we can show policymakers the real difference that these pioneers are making in the field.
During this week’s Fly-In, members of the IAB Long Tail Alliance joined IAB in the nation’s capital to meet with members of the U.S. Congress and their staffs to give legislators and policymakers a better, fuller understanding of the challenges and concerns facing online entrepreneurs and the negative impact that legislation and regulations may have on their livelihoods and businesses. Since most of these smaller digital companies are dependent on advertising revenue, the policies that impact digital advertising have a direct link to their livelihoods.
It is vital for Congressional leaders to consider and appreciate the consequences of their work in the online arena of our members—many of whom are small, family-owned businesses that rely heavily on advertising to sustain their entrepreneurial mission. The timely, grassroots message that the IAB Long Tail Alliance brings to Capitol Hill each year is a key reminder of the growing importance of small digital businesses to our industry and to the overall national economy.
These IAB members not only represent the best of the internet—they represent what the ‘American Dream’ is all about. These are passionate small business owners, many of whom are home-based, who took a hobby and made it into a career. Many of their sites exist to serve a strong social or community purpose, generate rich content, and all provide a valuable niche service to users. They are changing the landscape of digital media every day for the better. I often hear chatter about how politicians should look out for the little guy—well, the little has done digital.
IAB’s Long Tail Alliance Fly-In was launched in June 2009. Since then, hundreds of ad- supported small publishers have networked with lawmakers and staff in the U.S. House and Senate to ensure their voices are heard and valued, and to share their perspectives on how additional legislative action could create unwarranted and unmanageable barriers to their current operations and prospects for future growth.
These online entrepreneurs are the new face of small business in America, and it is crucial that their voices are heard on Capitol Hill. If you are one the scores of digital pioneers out there who want to have more of a say in how policy affects your business, I would invite you to find out more about the IAB Long Tail Alliance. This is a special member category for publishers who sell online advertising opportunities indirectly, through ad networks or directly, and have revenues under $1 million per year. To learn more and to find out how to qualify for membership, visit www.iab.net/longtailalliance.
About the Author
Alison Pepper is Senior Director of Public Policy, Interactive Advertising Bureau.