IAB Heads to D.C. to Lobby Digital Ad Biz’s Case

Concerned about potential regulation from the Obama administration and the Democratic-controlled Congress, the Interactive Advertising Bureau has descended on Washington D.C. this week, armed with new research conducted by a pair of Harvard Business School professors to make the industry’s case to lawmakers.

According to a new study issued by the IAB on Wednesday (June 10), online advertising is responsible for $300 billion of economic activity in the U.S.–or 2.1 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product. Plus, over three million people are employed in the U.S. thanks in part to the online ad business, including 1.2 million with high-paying  jobs that did not exist two decades ago, says the study.

Those figures were compiled by Harvard Business School professors John Deighton and John Quelch, along with Cambridge, MA-based Hamilton Consultants. The fact that the IAB turned to Harvard to produce such ammunition underscores just how serious the organization is taking the regulation issue. For example, there some industry insiders fear that in the current pro-regulation environment, D.C. lawmakers could come down inordinately harshly on the online ad business—such as placing prohibitive restrictions on nearly all forms of ad targeting which employs consumers’ Web-surfing data.

“The results of this study confirm the vast influence and driving importance of the ad-supported Internet to the overall economy,” said Randall Rothenberg, IAB president and CEO. “By understanding the total contribution of the Internet to the U.S. economy, we can more accurately assess the impact of potential legislative changes on the Internet’s operations, particularly the consequences of any actions that would alter ad-supported business models.”

In addition to the new research, the IAB is using its Washington visit to announce the official launch the Long Tail Alliance, a group that will focus on issues related to small, advertising supported Web businesses.