Recently in Public Policy Category

IAB Launches Digital Advertising Regulation 101 Guide

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Are you familiar with Section 5 of the FTC Act?   Do you know how the government enforces its privacy laws?  What are the important state and federal laws that are relevant to your business model?

 Historically, the U.S approach to regulating privacy has been largely sectorial, meaning that there are a number of laws in place that address individual industries (e.g., healthcare or financial services) versus the far more comprehensive approach taken by the European Union.

To provide digital advertisers with a basic working knowledge of the current privacy laws applicable to the industry, the IAB has created a Digital Advertising Regulation 101 resource

This guide is for those with a limited understanding of current privacy law who are looking to learn a little bit more about the U.S.’s basic approach to these issues.  It is not meant to provide extensive detail into legislative histories or prognosticate on the outcome of pending privacy cases winding their way through the courts, but instead to give those new to the world of privacy a lay of the land.  

The guide covers all facets of digital advertising regulation.  It explains the basic rules that businesses need to follow, outlines both federal and state regulation, and provides summaries of sector-specific rules pertinent to digital advertising (all linking out to further information for those interested in delving deeper into a certain topic).  

This new resource is a supplement to the IAB’s Legislative and Regulatory Tracker that went online in October of last year.  It is meant to provide a general overview of the policies already in place, while the Legislative Tracker shows up-to-date developments on individual pieces of pending legislation in the context of digital advertising.

About the Author

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Stephen Hicks

Since February 2009, Hicks has served as General Counsel and Corporate Secretary for Ziff Davis, LLC. and its predecessor. Hicks is co-chair of the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) legal affairs committee. Prior to joining Ziff Davis, Hicks served as General Counsel and Secretary for: MTM Technologies Inc. a publicly traded IT services provider and product resller; OutlookSoft Corp. a VC backed international financial software corporation acquired by SAP; and AMICAS Inc. (formerly VitalWorks) a publicly traded medical software corporation. Hicks also worked on the executive staff of Dennis Vacco, the New York State Attorney General; and was an associate at a New York law firm.
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Congress to Propose Tax on Advertising

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The economic consulting firm IHS Global Insight estimates this could place 1.7 million U.S. jobs at risk.  Today, advertising sales help support 20 million jobs, or 15% of all jobs in the country.

IAB members have no doubt been exposed to the congressional turmoil of late over budget policy in Washington.  From one debt ceiling crisis to the next, to sequestration, and a complete shutdown of the government, U.S. budget deficits are driving policy down the same road as a kicked can.Moneypie.jpg

It is widely understood that a reform of our taxation system is the first step forward to finding a long term solution for deficit reduction and economic growth.  Early last year, House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) and Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) established a process to begin review of the U.S. tax code, last overhauled in 1986. 

IAB has learned Chairman Camp is prepared to formally release the Committee’s draft tax reform bill in the coming days; and, Chairman Baucus will begin briefing Committee members next week to prepare introduction shortly thereafter. 

Why does this matter to you?

Many U.S. companies have, for decades, declared advertising as an, “ordinary and necessary cost of doing business.”  Similar to employee payroll, office rent and other business expenditures, advertising is considered a standard deduction under applicable U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) tax rules.  It is the unified goal of Chairmen Camp and Baucus, and many U.S. industries, to see a lowered corporate tax rate (from 35% to as low as 28%).  However, in order to accomplish a lowered overall rate, many deductions find themselves on the chopping block as “pay for’s” to offset the reduced revenue.  

Specifically, the House Ways and Means Committee has developed draft tax reform legislation that would be funded by imposing a tax on advertising. 

Today, businesses may deduct 100% of the cost of their advertising. The proposal in the Committee’s draft tax reform legislation would allow a business to deduct only 50% of its advertising costs in the year the ad runs but to delay the deduction for the remaining 50% over 10 years - thus deducting an additional 5% each of those years. The Senate Finance Committee draft is widely rumored to mirror this “Cost Recovery” bill language. 

While Leadership in both the House and Senate is not prepared to hold a vote on tax reform this year; once introduced, the draft bills will become THE base line for all future debates. 

What are the consequences?

The very real consequence of having advertising re-classified (in whole or in part) as a taxable business activity is that client advertisers will do less of it. Any tax percentage assessed will incline companies to reduce advertising and media spending in order to mitigate or off-set any tax. This impacts ad agencies directly -and can adversely affect entire local economies and job bases where agencies and advertising-related businesses play such an important role.

The proposal also does not consider that companies buy new advertising each year and would feel the brunt of this tax annually. Not only would they have less money to spend on advertising year after year, but media companies would also be impacted as advertisers would be forced to reduce their ad buys.

Consider the impact this proposal would have on the economy:

  • Employment in the ad-supported internet ecosystem doubled over the past four years to 5.1 million, making it one of the most dynamic sectors in the recessionary American economy, according to a study by researchers at the Harvard University Business School, commissioned by the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB). 
  • The ecosystem contributed $741 billion to the U.S. economy in 2011, close to double 2007 figures, and accounted for 5.1 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP), an uptick from 3.5 percent four years ago.

What can I do?

Begin thinking about what this change in tax code would mean to your company’s bottom line and ability to keep hiring.  Stay plugged into IAB Public Policy news and alerts; and, be prepared for a call to action.  

Please direct any and all questions to Mike Zaneis ([email protected]) or Sarah Hudgins ([email protected]) in our Washington, D.C., office.


About the Author

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Mike Zaneis

Mike Zaneis is SVP & General Counsel at the IAB.

 

The Digital advertising industry exists in a complex legislative and regulatory environment. Policies in Internet governance, privacy, advertising, taxation, and intellectual property all have significant impacts on the growth and direction of the industry.

 And these policies are not being developed in one place. Within the Washington, DC beltway, laws and industry guidance are promulgated by regulatory agencies, such as the Federal Trade Commission or the Federal Communications Commission, the judicial system and past precedent set by court cases, and legislation enacted by Congress.

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To make this policy landscape even more complex, the digital advertising industry must also be cognizant of local and international laws. As those working in the industry know, digital advertising is borderless in nature and therefore depends upon a base level of legal cohesion among countries and regions. Disruptions stemming from policies in one nation, or U.S. state, are felt globally. Take, for example, two recent anecdotes from Europe.

On October 21, a data privacy bill before the European Parliament passed through committee on its path to becoming law. This draft bill, created in response to the recent revelations about U.S. national security data-tracking practices, directly impacts the digital advertising industry in several ways. For one, the bill calls for explicit consent before a wider variety of processing activities. The bill would also create new barriers to transferring information about EU citizens to the U.S. Perhaps most importantly, the bill proposes a new definition of personally-identifiable information that includes “online identifiers.” The European Parliament will now negotiate with the Council of the EU to reach a compromise agreement.

Contemporaneously, the EU is considering whether or not to allow the U.S.-EU Safe Harbor Framework to continue. This framework allows participating U.S. companies to comply with EU privacy rules through a streamlined self-certification process. Under this framework, Over 4000 companies, and many IAB members, have demonstrated their high level of privacy protection in order to work with European companies and serve European citizens. Although Safe Harbor is focused on addressing commercial privacy practices, the value of the Framework has been questioned in recent months in association with national security concerns.

Were digital advertising practices and technologies static, there would already be a complicated set of rules to follow. But industry practitioners know that digital advertising is never static. Innovations are constantly created that raise new public policy questions. This is evidenced by the FTC’s recent interest in native advertising and the Internet of things.

To help the digital advertising industry identify the policies relevant to them, the IAB has created an online Legislative and Regulatory Tracker. This webpage summarizes draft legislation and regulations that will impact our ecosystem, and categorizes these proposed laws by subject, such as children’s privacy, location privacy, and trade. It also offers IAB’s positions on the draft laws, providing further insight into how IAB is working to promote growth in the interactive marketplace on behalf of its members. Whether you’re a publisher, advertising network, or marketer, we hope you find this service helpful in navigating the complex policy environment.

This tracker will continually be updated and expanded, so check back regularly for up-to-date information on the policies that could affect your business. For more updates on the IAB’s public policy work, visit the IAB public policy website. If you have questions about the tracker or IAB’s other public policy initiatives, please feel free to email me at [email protected].

About the Author

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Alex Propes

Alex Propes is Senior Manager, Public Policy, at the IAB.

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Small Publishers Tell Congress: Don't Forget About Me

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“What keeps us coming back is that this event opens an opportunity for us that we don’t have on our own. Yes, we could call and make an appointment with someone in Congress, but we wouldn’t have the same impact. Secondly, this is a chance for us to network and get together with people who do similar jobs as us, and that’s very rare. There are a lot of long tail publishers, but not a lot of community amongst them. There are a lot of best practices and lessons learned that doesn’t get passed on. This gives us a chance to get input from other people in the industry and network on a personal basis.”  
— James Martin, Community Powered Media

Last week, more than 50 small publishers came to Washington D.C. to meet with 27 House and 9 Senate offices, representing 24 districts and 11 states plus the District of Columbia. Small publishers converged on DC to highlight the importance of the advertising-supported internet empowering small business growth in America.

Now in its fifth year, the IAB Long Tail Alliance Fly-In  brings small publishers to Washington, DC to educate Congress about what digital advertising means to them, their employees and their families. Small publishers, known as the “long tail” of the internet,  have been created and transformed in massive numbers across the U.S. with the advent of the ad-supported internet. Providing information and resources on a diversity of topics ranging from baking to politics, these small publishers represent the very best of the new economy of the internet.

The digital media landscape is not just about the larger players in the marketplace, but also the diversity of smaller voices seeking success on their own terms and scale. This annual trip to Washington for small publishers is part of IAB’s commitment to make sure that Capitol Hill does not overlook this crucial base of the internet economy that is powered by digital advertising.

Fly-In 2013Providing an opportunity for small publishers to speak directly to Congress  is the best means to bring to life the very real threat posed by ill-conceived legislation that would disproportionately impact small publishers. These small publishers  are the new face of ‘mom and pop’ shops. They represent a diversity of voices that simply could not exist without interactive advertising.

The Fly-In also included a full day of training sessions and roundtable discussions created specifically to address the business interests of small publishers. Small publishers, ad networks, and media executives shared actionable insights on how the community of small publishers can improve their businesses. The two-day event also served as a unique networking opportunity for small publishers, who, for the most part, work from their homes and have limited opportunities to meet other small publishers like themselves.

About the Author

Alison Pepper

Alison Pepper

Alison Pepper is Senior Director of Public Policy, Interactive Advertising Bureau.

Don't Let the FTC Steal Christmas

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The Federal Trade Commission is undertaking a revision of their rules enforcing COPPA, the Federal law that protects families from the unwanted collection of personally identifiable information about their children. The interactive advertising industry supports COPPA and recognizes that a lot has changed in the 14 years since its passage, including the rise of the internet and, more recently, the growth of the mobile marketplace — but we must embrace innovation and the benefits they have brought to families. Recent proposals made by the FTC would conflate benign data transfers, which present no discernible threat to children’s online safety, with very real concerns about the unauthorized collection of information that might allow strangers to contact our children.

IAB hopes that the FTC will not undermine legitimate commercial practices that have revolutionized the way kids learn and play in the digital age. This holiday season let’s celebrate innovation and technology instead of playing scrooge to American families.

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About the Author

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Mike Zaneis

Mike Zaneis is SVP & General Counsel at the IAB.

 

Seeing Red?  Bleeding Blue?  Maybe you just feel a like little Abby, and are tired of Bronco Obama and Mitt Romeneney.  Fret not, because after Tuesday night, Americans will find respite from these words: “… and I approve this message.”  But until the airwaves are relinquished back to the likes of Nike and McDonalds, we bring you this IAB cheat sheet to get you through the night and make you sound like the next coming of Charlie Cook at the water cooler.  If you are looking to bone up, and become a bona fide Tech Policy Wonk, you may eat your veggies by reading Part 2 of this election blog series.

Current Snapshot - Congressional Scoreboard

If you were busy flirting with [insert: attractive popular student] during civics, here is a quick refresher.

The House of Representatives, 435 congressmen and women, proportionally represent the 50 states (fun fact: five delegates represent DC, the Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands; a resident commissioner represents Puerto Rico).  Representatives serve 2-year terms, and the entire House is up for election every even-numbered year.

The Senate, otherwise known as the Upper Chamber, is comprised of 50 senators - two from each state.  Senators serve six-year terms, and one-third of the Senate body is up for election every even-numbered year.  This year, 21 democratic-held seats, 10 republican-held seats, and 2 independent-held seats are up for election.  Of these 33 seats, 10 members retired, and 1 lost their primary, leaving 11 open seats without an incumbent running. *60 votes are needed in the Senate to proceed on legislation, and currently, Senate Independents caucus with the Democrats. 

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Road to the White House - 270
Like it or not, to win the presidency, a candidate must win the Electoral College. The electoral college consists of 538 electors, a majority of which—270—is needed to win.  Each state sends the same number of electors as the state’s congressional delegation.  With an electorate increasingly 50/50 split down party lines, the elusive independent voter has enormous power.  Where independent voters are concentrated, that state is identified as a battleground, or swing state.  This year’s presidential is too close for the pundits to call, and in order for either campaign to win, they must do two things: turn out their base at the voting polls, and win as many swing states as possible.  This year, 7 states may very well decide the presidency; and, depending on the scenario, Ohio may be the big get, but ironically, small states Iowa and New Hampshire may have the final say.  Watch for every news network to bring out the giant, touch-screen maps, to start  breaking down 7-state fuzzy math.

7:00 PM EST / 4:00 PM PST
The Commonwealth Factor - Polls officially close in Virginia, one of several targeted battleground states, and could indicate the direction of the Presidential Election.  Historically, Virginia swings red, but the President took the state in 2008.  While the demographic landscape continues to trend blue, the state tops all others in defense spending, and proposed Pentagon cuts may move the state into the Romney column.

Buyer Beware… do not be fooled by early vote totals in Virginia.  Northern Virginia, which trends Democratic, will report earlier than rural portions of the state, which are traditionally Republican; late reporting could reveal a Romney Virginia victory.  Also, be on the lookout for two tight Senate races.  Former Democratic Governor Tim Kaine is in the fight of his life against former Republican Senator and Governor George Allen in the seat vacated by Democrat Jim Webb.  In Indiana, a surprising turn for Democratic candidate Joe Donnelly against Republican Richard Mourdock.  “Top of the Ballot” rules may not apply, as Romney may take Virginia and very likely Indiana, while Kaine and Donnelly pull out razor thin victories.

Battleground Florida also closes.  The night starts to get exciting. Not since 1960 has anyone won the presidency without two of the big three: Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Florida.

Other states closing at 7:00 PM - Kentucky, South Carolina, Vermont, and Georgia

7:30 PM EST / 4:30 PM PST
O’ Ohio - While polls officially close in battleground Ohio at 7:30 PM, if history has taught us anything, do not anticipate a final count until late into the evening.  If Ohio is called early for Obama, this does not bode well for Romney: a Republican has never won the Presidency without winning Ohio.

Obama has the state organizational advantage and Ohio unemployment numbers are in his favor, but Romney can still pull off a historic first pointing to an advantage in Florida and New Hampshire.

Other states closing at 7:30 PM - West Virginia and North Carolina

8:00 PM EST / 5:00 PM PST
Battleground America - Things get cooking in the fight for electoral votes.  A win in Pennsylvania could seal the deal for Obama, while a Romney victory ensures the fight goes on through the night.  New Hampshire will prove crucial for Romney, and the numbers are pointing in his direction.  Several tight Senate races close, including industry champions Democrat Claire McCaskill against Todd Akin in the ‘show me’ state Missouri, and Democrat Chris Murphy against WWE Proprietor Linda McMahon in Connecticut.  Another tight and bitter race, moderate Republican incumbent Scott Brown defends his Senate seat against democratic darling and Harvard Prof Elizabeth Warren in Massachusetts.

Other states closing at 8:00 PM - Alabama, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oklahoma, DC, Michigan, Mississippi, New Jersey, Texas and Tennessee.

9:00 PM EST / 6:00 PM PST
Rocky Mountain High - Colorado, formerly a Republican stronghold, swung Blue in ‘08 and has trended Democratic in recent weeks’ polling.  Site of the 2008 Democratic Convention, the state’s demographics have remained relatively unchanged, but expect high voter turnout from the 18-35 set for a ballot measure to legalize small amounts of marijuana.

Bellweather tolls — While the PX90 Pro Veep candidate Ryan may be Wisconsin’s favorite son, who wins the state’s 10 electoral votes may depend on the outcome of the Senate race between former republican Governor Tommy Thompson and democratic representative Tammy Baldwin.  Polls show a dead heat, and a tumultuous two years at the polls prove the Badger state is unpredictable.

Other states closing at 9:00 PM - Arizona, Louisiana, Maine, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, Rhode Island, and Wyoming.

10:00 PM EST / 7:00 PM PST
Double Down - Nevada and Iowa will continue to keep the pundits talking.  Dubbed a must-win for Obama, three electoral votes from the state caucus that propelled Obama into 2008, Iowa, may be the difference again in 2012.  Polls show the President leading, but turnout will be the deciding factor.  Keep an eye on tight races from Senate republican incumbent Dean Heller and Democratic challenger Shelley Berkley, and former IA First Lady Christie Vilsack as she takes on long time House incumbent Steve King.

Lovin’ it — Always a tight race as the lone Democrat in Utah, Representative Jim Matheson may have finally met his match against Saratoga Springs Mayor, and 2012 Republican Convention celeb, Mia Love.

Other states closing at 10:00 PM - Idaho and Montana.

11:00 PM EST / 8:00 PM PST
Pacific Factor - The West Coast often misses out on the fun as pollsters favor calling races early on the East Coast, but watch out this year as every electoral vote matters.  Washington finds itself in another tight Governor’s race between former democratic Congressman Jay Inslee and Lt. Governor Rob McKenna. Hawaii is on the radar as well with an open Senate seat battle between former republican governor Linda Lingle and Congresswoman Mazie Hirono, though polls now show Hirono pulling away with a size able lead.

Other states closing at 11:00 PM - California and Oregon

12:00 AM EST / 9:00 PM PST
On the Red Eye - It goes without saying the republican stronghold in Alaska is likely to give its votes to Romney.  But, be forewarned, by the time Alaska closes, if it is still as tight as some predict we may still not know who the next President will be. 

Shake ups and predictions — As of Monday, it looks like Democrats will keep the Senate, and Republicans the House.  Nevertheless, a few shake ups are important to note for the industry.  In particular, the House Energy and Commerce Committee, important to the Interactive industry will see a minimum five new members, and the Senate Commerce Committee is likely to see some changes on the Republican side, particularly with Senior members Kay Bailey Hutchison and Olympia Snowe’s retirements.  

Want to know more?  Hunker down with a six-pack, your favorite news network, and your iPad, and check out these websites (but make sure to vote first!):

Real Clear Politics: http://realclearpolitics.com

FOX News - 2012 Elections: http://foxnews.com/politics/elections/index.html

POLITICO - 2012 Live: http://politico.com/2012-election

Rasmussen - 2012: http://rasmussenreports.com/public_content/election_2012

Gallup - Election 2012: http://gallup.com/poll/election.aspx

Bloomberg - Elections: http://bloomberg.com/politics/elections

ABC News - Election Central: http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/OTUS

Associated Press (AP) - Politics: http://news.myway.com/index/id/politics%7Cap.html

CBS News - Politics: http://cbsnews.com/politics

CNN - Election Center: http://cnn.com/ELECTION/2012

National Journal - Election 2012: http://nationaljournal.com/2012-election

New York Times - Politics: http://www.nytimes.com/pages/politics/index.html

NBC News - Election Central: http://msnbc.msn.com/id/3032553/ns/politics

Washington Post - Politics: http://washingtonpost.com/politics

In a Word: Innovation

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Parties Platforms Tackle the Tech Sector, but Devil is in the Details

A lot will change after today, but for the industry, priority public policies remain the same. But what are the candidates’ priorities? Republicans and Democrats do not agree on much, but if there is one thing they do agree on, this country needs Innovation. A quick word count shows the Republicans used the word 27 times and Democrats used it 16 within each respective Platform document released at the National Conventions this past August and September.  But who’s counting anyway?

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With Election Day upon us, the IAB is cracking open those Platform documents once again to take a look at what “Innovation, Internet Freedom, and a 21st Century Workforce” among other buzz words really means to the Democratic and Republican parties’ policy proposals. 

Why does this matter to you?  Whether you are a netizen, tech company, publisher, or just earning your Internet cred, these policies will shape our future, directly and indirectly impacting you personally and your business. Follow along at the links below.

“Moving America Forward: 2012 Democratic National Platform”

“We Believe in America: Republican National Platform”

Education and 21st Century Workforce
Music to any tech wonk’s ears is the increase in STEM education, (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics).  The President hopes to double down, and increase investments in science two-fold to educate the next generation of scientists, facilitate private sector innovation, and prepare at least 100,000 new math and science teachers over the coming decade.  To supplement this investment, the President proposes “stapling a green card” to every advanced degree in STEM fields for foreign students to stay here in the U.S. and help create jobs.  The Governor would likewise utilize his red, swing-line stapler to foster job creation and keep STEM degrees in the U.S.  The Governor, however, focuses on increased STEM education through consumer choice in education, removing boundary barriers to school choice, and replacing teaching tenure systems with a merit-based approach to help attract the best and brightest talent in the classroom. 

“Do Not Track”
No, this IABer did not slip this paragraph in as a hoax, you read that right.  The words “Do Not Track” appear in the Democratic Platform.  Noting many regulations are outdated, unnecessary, or too costly, the Administration proposes a “simpler, smarter, cost-effective approach to regulation” emphasizing “common sense safeguards.”  The Administration underscored the launch of the Internet Privacy Bill of Rights and self-regulatory agreement for a “Do Not Track” option for consumers as a successful example of an efficient and effective approach to regulation. 

Internet Freedom
While the Democratic platform seeks to reform how government regulates, the Republican platform points to the removal of regulatory barriers.  Specifically, the Republican party’s Internet Freedom platform would seek to prevent legacy regulations from interfering with new, disruptive technologies, protect the current multi-stakeholder approach to Internet governance, and secure personal data from government overreach.  Even more, the Republican platform calls for a retreat from what it argues is the current Administration’s “Luddite” approach to technological progress (citing net neutrality), preferring instead a public-private partnership to build out America’s wireline and wireless broadband infrastructure.   The President has likewise opposed extension of intergovernmental controls over the Internet and supports the multi-stakeholder approach; however, Internet Freedom takes on a different meaning that points to human rights.  The Administration will continue to defend Internet Freedom for the freedom of expression, assembly, and association, and preserve the Internet platform for commerce, debate, learning, and innovation, identified in some circles as net neutrality.

Digital Infrastructure
The Governor’s proposals are very specific, albeit not identified as infrastructure in the document.  The Republican platform would reform communications laws, encourage public-private partnerships to build out rural broadband, and conduct an inventory of federal spectrum for private sector build out.  The President has committed to ensuring 98% of the country has access to high-speed wireless Internet access, including solutions to free up spectrum and build out a nationwide, interoperable public safety network, as well as building a smarter electrical grid and upgrading IT infrastructure for the health and education sectors. 

Taxation
To some the magic words are tax reform, still others may be happy to just see repatriation, but for everyone in the tech sector until reform comes to fruition (last in 1986), the Research and Development tax credit is always a top priority.  Both the President and the Governor would permanently extend the R&D credit for innovators.  That is where the similarities end.  Democrats support lowering the corporate tax rate in exchange for closing tax loopholes, and would lower rates even further for manufacturers who create jobs in the U.S.  The Governor would reduce the corporate tax rate, repeal the corporate alternative minimum tax, and create a territorial system of corporate taxation to allow for the repatriation of investments to the U.S.

And leaving little to distinguish the two parties…

Intellectual Property
At the heart of the tech sector is our nation’s knowledge assets - the creativity and ideas that anchor a successful business.  This is not lost on either party, as both seek to vigorously defend intellectual property here and abroad. 

Cybersecurity
Important both for our Nation’s security and a flourishing Internet economy, any cybersecurity policy will have a lasting effect on how companies function in the ecosystem.  Both parties seek a free flow of information between the government and the private sector, but neither spell out the path forward for secure communication channels or obligations. Following the release of the Platform document in Charlotte, the President has since released a draft executive order that tracks the Cyber Security Act of 2012 citing congressional inaction.

About the Author

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Sarah Hudgins

Sarah Hudgins is Director, Public Policy, IAB. Follow her @SarahAHudgins.

 

Refuting the ‘Social Media Hangover’ at Political Conventions

Please excuse this IABer’s arrogance when she says: the experts got it wrong.

After Tampa and Charlotte, the reports came flooding in “social media revolution failed,” “Parties still need physical convention,” and “will social media ever live up to its promise?”

But if you know what I mean when I say #eastwooding, read no further, you probably already get everything I am about to highlight.

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For some reason, just like novice mobile marketers, the pundits looked to social media to replace the political norms, and missed the true Holy Grail. Just as a successful cross platform marketing campaign reaches the consumer as they move throughout their day, in different contexts utilizing both old and new, social media supplements the convention and campaign platform, it is not there to replace it. Breaking down the walls did not simply mean to host a virtual convention, rather, it’s a tool to expand audience and break down access barriers.

Let’s be honest, while baby boomers and beyond are still happy to find a couch during prime time TV, up and coming generations are highly mobile (and I don’t mean by device), they are cord cutters, and they consume a lot of information and entertainment through multiple platforms and services, at the time convenient for them.

Social media is our Where Brother Art Thou’s tin can and soapbox. It’s retail politicking. How in a modern national campaign do you recreate the glad handing, baby kissing, and storytelling necessary for intimate, voter engagement?  Accessibility and communication.

Kal Penn’s call for #sexyface wasn’t just a funny gimmick; it created an opportunity for engagement.  Voters like to feel as though they are a part of the process and in on the secret. It took less than an hour for #sexyface to trend on Twitter.  While an unintended consequence, @InvisibleObama had tens of thousands of followers in the first hour, 40,000 by the next morning.

And this raises a separate question that has yet to truly unfold: measuring social media’s impact.  Some argue in order for social media to be successful, it must be organic. On this point, the two campaigns seem to be diverging, and we will be presented with two case studies by year’s end. Last week, the Romney campaign was the first political campaign to purchase a paid promotion on Twitter. Consider, the President clocks in over 19.6 million followers to the Governor’s 1.1 million.

Campaign strategies aside, the beauty of social media at the conventions this year was its seamless integration - it was universally present, yet invisible - like any great technology should be. From delegates swiping badges to update their Facebook timeline, Eventbrite check-ins, to the hottest ticket in town literally: lattes in the Google Media Lounge, to Convention real-time apps, and Tweet-ups. The experts failed to realize social media at the conventions wasn’t a replacement, but an enhancement.

The 2008 Presidential and 2010 Midterms were just the beginning.  We are only beginning to see the tipping point, and there will be mistakes, flaws, and downright failures as campaigns navigate the best way to put these tools to use.  I am often pointed to the Veep App as evidence social media and technology platforms don’t work for political.  The much-vaunted Veep App would be the first place for voters to find news on the Governor’s announcement for a VP candidate.  Unfortunately for the App, and the campaign, that news broke before the App could.  And it is true; campaigns must have controlled messaging, and esoterically will remain unchanged for the near future.  But don’t shoot the App, campaign leaks are tech-agnostic.

And we’re just scratching the surface. Be sure to join us this year at the IAB MIXX Conference & Expo as some of the smartest minds in media and political discuss the “Digital Election” and examine how the Internet will decide the Presidency this year. To find out more, please visit http://www.iab.net/mixx/agenda.

About the Author

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Sarah Hudgins

Sarah Hudgins is Director, Public Policy, IAB. Follow her @SarahAHudgins.

 

Get out your buttons and your boaters… IAB is headed to the 2012 National Political Conventions. This year, Tampa has the privilege of hosting the Grand Old Party August 27 - 30, meanwhile the Queen City, Charlotte, NC will host the Democratic Party September 3 - 6.

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While placards, straw boater hats, and political buttons remain delegate wardrobe de rigueur as much today as when we “Liked Ike,” this isn’t your grandma’s political convention. Like buttons have a whole new meaning Ike couldn’t begin to comprehend, and the conventions will no longer know the physical limitations of the past as attendance goes digital with Google+, Facebook, Twitter, and a host of new apps and services that enable social media hang outs, groups, and tweetups.

“Have Twitter, will travel?” Don’t fret, two years in the making, the Host cities, national political committees, and the networks all anticipated the importance of going mobile at the conventions and have been working tirelessly to build out the regions’ communications networks to ensure you don’t miss a minute due to lag time or poor connectivity. Earlier this month, the Democratic Party released its mobile app that will allow users to watch the convention through live stream, navigate the city with friends, share photos, and keep a digital scrapbook. The Republican Party also just released its mobile app a few days ago leading up to kickoff.

And with all this digital connectivity, comes opportunity. A large, captive audience of politically enthusiastic consumers with their eyeballs glued to smartphones and tablets; as POLITICO reported recently, Tampa and Charlotte will see unprecedented levels of mobile advertising by outside groups, issue advocacy organizations, and local retailers and restaurants.

Even more important than the digital political explosion we will witness in two shorts weeks, will be what the candidates and their campaign surrogates and keynote speakers have to say about their visions for the future of an economy dependent on innovation. A National Political Convention is about formally voting a candidate to be the party’s nominee for President - but in contemporary history, it is even more about setting the Party Platform, the principles that will define how the Party’s candidate will govern if elected.

Vital to our industry, and the broader Internet economy will be the elevation and recognition of our issues to the National Conventions’ platforms. How the future Administration intends to engage with Congress and global regulators on Internet policy like governance (ITU), privacy (at home and abroad), and infrastructure (broadband/wifi) is critical to the future health our industry and the broader marketplace to come.

Stay tuned for updates from Tampa and Charlotte…

About the Author

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Sarah Hudgins

Sarah Hudgins is Director, Public Policy, IAB. Follow her @SarahAHudgins.

 

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.

IAB Long Tail AllianceIt 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

Alison Pepper

Alison Pepper is Senior Director of Public Policy, Interactive Advertising Bureau.