What Banning Surveillance Advertising Could Mean for Small Businesses

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Surveillance advertising is defined as the extensive tracking and profiling of people and groups then using that information to micro target ads based on behavioral and search history. This type of advertising has been a business model that large companies such as Facebook and Google have been using for years.

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Privacy-focused institutions and multiple other groups have drafted and signed a letter requesting the ban of surveillance advertising.

Why Surveillance Advertising Shouldn’t Be Banned

Dennis Consorte, a business consultant offered his opinion on why surveillance advertising shouldn’t be banned:

“Banning things is never a good idea. What we need is transparency, so that adults can make decisions about how they choose to share their own information. We already see major strides towards transparency by way of GDPR compliance in the EU, which many American companies abide by, and the CCPA. Ultimately the solution is reasonable, readable terms of service and privacy policies on websites. As for banning targeted advertising, the result will be to harm the people that Accountable Tech and their coalition claims to want to protect. I remember when I used to be able to advertise hair care products for Black women on Facebook back in 2016. Thanks to ProPublica, you can no longer target people by ethnic group, in the name of racial equity. The result? People who do not need these products see ads that aren't relevant to them, and advertisers spend money advertising to people who won't buy their product. The result is a bad user experience, and higher advertising costs that are passed on to consumers.

So now, these products are more expensive for the people who need them. In other words, this attempt at protecting people actually harmed them by raising the price of the goods that they want and need. Furthermore, the only companies that can afford to waste money on irrelevant advertising are large corporate entities with big budgets that are often managed by outside agencies and salaried employees. Meanwhile, small businesses lose yet another tool to give them the ability to compete against larger companies. With ideas like this "Ban Surveillance Advertising" concept coming to fruition, small businesses will lose yet another tool that can help them scrape together some profits during a time when every penny counts. And, end-users will see an influx of irrelevant ads that make their online experience poor. Combine this with the fact that irrelevant ads don't typically result in purchases, and you've got a recipe for a depressed economy to which the Great Depression will pale in comparison.”

Article by Dennis Consorte, Small Business Consultant and Expert at Digital.com.