What the Fall of Net Neutrality Could Mean for Digital Marketing

By Patrice Meadows — Tuesday, December 19th, 2017 at 11:00am

Banner cover image for Cascade CMS blog discussing the impact of net neutrality.

The FCC’s decision to eliminate rules to ensure equal access to the Internet sparked fierce reactions among techies, entrepreneurs and political activists. Proponents contend that the rules limited investment and innovation among internet service providers (ISP)s; while opponents argue that corporations will manipulate service speeds to bolster profits.  

How this move will play out remains an open question as many anticipate that it will face extensive protest and legal action. Even still, marketers, communicators, and contributors must follow these developments as it could have huge implications for their long-term marketing strategies.

Many anticipate that declassifying ISPs as Title II common carriers will remove critical protections that ensure fair speeds and equal access. Here are three ways that those changes could impact digital marketing.

Increased Costs for Content Distribution & Promotion

Now that ISPs are no longer considered public utilities (as provided under the Title II designation), they can structure service offerings with no regard for equity in access or content. That means two things; providers could:

Restrict content based on a number of factors like corporate partnerships or political affiliations

Or

Charge more for basic Internet access or access to popular platforms

Depending on how things shake out, content promotion on social media or video platforms could cost even more than currently projected. Delivering the same reach or engagement could become challenging as some audiences will be harder to reach as they decide which platforms and speeds are worth the money.

Poor User Experience

The elimination of rules requiring ISPs to deliver affordable service at reasonable speeds could further alienate people with limited Internet access. Those without reliable high-speed connections may be left with vastly different digital experiences than their counterparts. The extensive use of video and other rich media elements in digital marketing campaigns may alienate these users or cause undue frustration. Marketers must consider these potential outcomes and offer viable alternatives to these audiences.

Less Engagement

As more organizations and individuals churn out more content, the amount of engagement received per piece has dropped significantly. If ISPs restrict access to certain sites or platforms, marketers are sure to see even less engagement, which could cripple some digital marketing strategies. While none of the major ISPs have shared plans to limit user access in this way, there have been several examples of blocking and throttling unfavorable content in recent history.

How do you think digital marketing will change? Share your thoughts below or tweet us @hannon_hill.

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