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Unappreciated Benefits of Advertising and Commercial Speech

4 Pages Posted: 16 Jan 2011 Last revised: 19 Aug 2011

Adam D. Thierer

George Mason University - Mercatus Center

Date Written: January 15, 2011


Federal policy makers, state legislators, and state attorneys general have recently shown interest in regulating commercial advertising and marketing. Several new regulatory initiatives are being proposed, or are already underway, that could severely curtail or restrict advertising or marketing on a variety of platforms. The consequences of these stepped-up regulatory efforts will be profound and will hurt consumer welfare both directly and indirectly.

The affected platforms range from traditional media (newspapers, TV and radio broadcasters, etc.) to the newest media outlets (the Internet, online ad networks, social networks, video games, mobile devices, and interactive television). This expanded regulatory activism would apply to issues and products including pharmaceuticals, tobacco, alcohol, advertising during children’s television programming, online marketing to children, the loudness of ads on television, product placement marketing and testimonials, and more. Perhaps the most notable of these efforts is the recent push to impose a comprehensive regulatory regime on online advertising and data collection efforts in the name of enhancing consumer privacy. This might include a so-called “Do Not Track” mechanism that would block advertising or data collection through the mandatory reengineering of web browsers.

Keywords: Information, Speech, Internet, Economy, Fear, Marketing, Advertising, Privacy, Commercial, Pulitzer, Persuasion, FTC, Supreme Court, Federal Trade Commission, Paul Starr, Stigler, Free Lunch, Do Not Track, John Calfee, Media, Cross Subsidy, Regulation

Suggested Citation

Thierer, Adam D., Unappreciated Benefits of Advertising and Commercial Speech (January 15, 2011). Available at SSRN: or

Adam D. Thierer (Contact Author)

George Mason University - Mercatus Center ( email )

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4th Floor
Arlington, VA 22201-4433
United States

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