The End of Net Neutrality & How it Affects Your Online Marketing
What It Means for Your Small Business’s Online Marketing?
You might be curious what all this has to do with your business. Net Neutrality was just repealed by the FCC returning ISPs to an information service. No longer classified as a common carrier. ISPs are now free to pursue new avenues of income generation for their companies. After trying my best to be objective while conducting research, I must admit this. There doesn’t seem to be a way to make the end of Net Neutrality sound like anything more than a corporate grab for more control and less regulation. However to assume that all big corporations fall on only one side of the Net Neutrality debate would be misrepresentation of the facts. It seems that it isn’t just the little guy who supports regulation. Many Silicon Valley giants, Google, Facebook, Amazon and Netflix to name a few, oppose deregulation.
The Squeeze Trickles Down
These giants are fully aware that ISPs now have the legal leeway to strongarm them into paying higher fees for the copious amounts of data they send down their pipes each day. Now that the fight is over, I suppose these massive entities will graciously take the brunt of the ISPs “innovative” revenue generation tools, right? Not likely, large corporations such as mentioned above have a clever way of dealing with increased overhead, passing that new tax on to their consumer.
What does that mean for marketing agencies like ours? Higher cost for sponsored content on platforms like Facebook and Google. I think this calls for an extremely sarcastic “Hooray!”
This Better Not Affect My SEO!
It’s hard to predict what effect this will have on Google’s algorithms when it comes to SEO. However, if there is any merit to the accusations that ISPs will be able to throttle sites who don’t buy into premium “fast lanes” it could mean that google will have to reevaluate how web page loading speeds contribute to an SEO rating. Alternatively, Google could allow the sites who do buy in to blast their way to the top of search results.
My personal prediction is that ISP preferential partners will dominate the top search engine results while the rest of us our relegated to continue the battle for SEO in our shadowy corner of the web that few ever tread.
The Bar for Entry is Rising
It’s hard to imagine the internet segmented into premium content and everything else. It’s always just been content, laid out on an even playing field. But with an ISP’s ability to transmit content only at their discretion it seems completely within the realm of possibility that the internet will start to resemble the broadcasting networks of old.
Think about it this way. As a small business owner, you know that the vast majority of internet traffic will be on the quick and easy to access segments of the internet. Access to that primary audience is going to come at a huge premium. Your other option? Pay a bargain price to reach fewer people on the sites who are being left behind. Will it even make sense to market your small business online in that way?
I’m not saying that this isn’t the case now. Marketing on a premium site still takes a decent chunk of change. A smaller websites can still generate a considerable amount of traffic making them viable which also increases competition. This lowers premiums overall.
The Censorship Question
With the fire of indignation raging on the internet right now over Net Neutrality you may have heard rumors of ISPs having the capacity to censor material they disagree with. I imagine that when it comes to a small to midsize business owner the question on your mind is could it potentially stifle competition in the fields the ISPs have a vested interest in? Technically the answer is no, but I’m afraid there are still some dark implications at hand.
Sure, the ISPs have the capacity to do just that. However, the FTC (Federal Trade Commision) is still responsible for investigating and upholding antitrust laws. Let’s not delude ourselves, the internet is vast and moves at a breakneck pace. Should you feel like your website was being blocked or intentionally bottlenecked the burden of proof would first rest on you. Next you’d have to enter into the bureaucratic maze that is the FTC and legislate your case. As any small business knows, court dealings can dry up all of time and money and even if your case reaches a favorable outcome. It is most likely too late to revive your sinking enterprise.
These are just my thoughts and don’t necessarily represent the opinions of GenM Creative. I just thought I would add my piece of kindling to this Internet Inferno. In 30 to 90 days we should be able to move beyond speculation and analyze what the end of Net Neutrality really means for online marketing.