Small Internet publishers have been to Washington before to tell their story, but this time they are gathering with a singular purpose: to persuade lawmakers to put more pressure on Mozilla to change its plans for blocking third-party advertisers cookies by default in its Firefox browser.
As many as 60 small Web companies will be visiting lawmakers Monday and Tuesday as part of the IAB's annual Long Tail Alliance Fly-In. Even though it's the group's fifth year on the Hill, this year they are more determined than ever to be heard.
"The Mozilla plan has galvanized the small Web community. They haven't been as passionate about policy issues as they are this year," said Mike Zaneis, svp and general counsel of the IAB. "It's an intermediary meddling in the business."
Although Mozilla announced earlier this month that it wouldn't implement the default cookie blocker in its July release until it did more testing, small Internet websites still feel threatened.
With fewer than 10 employees, often three-person operations, small Web publishers like JoyofBaking.com and Ikeafans.com depend on advertising revenue from ad networks and can't afford to be cut off. Ahead of the trek to D.C., more than 960 ad-supported Internet businesses have signed a petition on the Interactive Advertising Bureau's website, warning Mozilla that if it goes ahead with the cookie-blocking browser, many of them will be forced to close.
While Congress can't do anything to stop Mozilla, it can cajole and use its bully pulpit and make life tough for a nonprofit organization like Mozilla. Already, four GOP lawmakers, Reps. Mike Pompeo (Kan.), Marsha Blackburn (Tenn.), Walter Jones (N.C.) and Jeff Denham (Calif.), sent a letter to Mozilla urging it to commit to not blocking third-party cookies by default because it would favor large Web publishers to the detriment of smaller ones.
"The third-party cookies that Mozilla Firefox would block are what allow the U.S.-based Internet publishing industry to sustain original, free content on thousands of small business websites in every corner of America," the four lawmakers wrote.