How Can The End Of Net Neutrality Affect Online Marketing
Net neutrality has become quite the popular topic of debate in recent times. Ever since the proposal from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman Ajit Pai has been revealed, people have not stopped talking about it. The entire future of the internet seems to be hanging by a thread, so this seems pretty serious. If this idea does get approved on December 14th, 2017 there’s a high possibility that the internet as we know it will change forever. And, one can easily assume how profoundly it will affect online marketing. The entire idea of the internet as a public communications service may end from that moment onward.
If you come to think of it, you will realize how crucial net neutrality is. We have not really considered its importance up until now. Thousands of companies have been able to level their playing field and compete with the bigger competition thanks to the internet. But, what does the future truly hold for such companies? More importantly, what will become of the future of online marketing?
The Internet Service Providers
Up until now, ISPs were “common carriers” as directed by the FCC. This is the same classification for telephone service providers as well. This tag basically meant that they had to handle all traffic equally. So, there could be no discrimination whatsoever.
However, the new proposal seeks to change this classification to “information services”. Such a change would mean that ISPs can block content they do not like. They can also charge different fees to access different sites or apps. They can bottleneck speeds depending on their whims. For example, without net neutrality, Verizon may choose to block all online-only news channels except Yahoo News. This is because they own Yahoo News. So, not only do they get to stop customers from visiting other news websites, they also get to generate traffic for their own business.
If the ISP wants, they can put up paywalls to monetize everything on the internet. In a nutshell, freedom on the internet would be destroyed. A long-awaited dream of broadband providers could finally come true if Pai’s proposal receives approval. It would spell doom for all of us, but more money for internet providers. Consumers will not be able to feel the effect right away. But when they do, it will be a painful one.
The effect that this change can have on online marketing is beyond knowing. It could mark the end of freemium marketing as we know it. As you might be well aware, freemium marketing is what allows you to offer free trials of products and services. It helps us marketers gain valuable leads by showing people what our brand has to offer.
Online Marketing And Its Doom
The concept of freemium marketing makes things available to everyone on the internet. Thanks to net neutrality everyone who found your brand on the internet could sign up for updates. However, if the proposal gets the green signal, then some companies might find their websites blocked because they are competing with similar offers from the blocking internet service provider.
In that case, they might have to pay extra money to reach potential customers. Or it could be the other way round. Customers might have to pay the ISPs more in order to view your website. In both methods, you are going to suffer. This idea does not go well with the low-cost strategy of online marketing.
Content marketing and inbound marketing can take a serious hit because ISPs can block access to your free education content downloads. It can completely ruin your lead generation and nurturing strategies. In fact, it can completely shift your marketing focus.
Now, the most important thing would be to reach out to customers in a cost-effective way for both parties. Simply put, this can complicate things unnecessarily. In order to advertise, you will probably have to pay more to get into the faster lanes, especially if a video is involved. Not only will this require bloated ad-budgets but it would also mean a destabilized playing field.
ISPs can charge websites in exchange for faster lane services. The more you can afford, the better lane you will get. This will drastically increase prices of all marketing processes. Come to think of it, if ISPs start offering their own marketing services, this could mean the end of freedom on the internet as we know it, forever.
Fight Fire With Fire
If ISPs start blocking and try changing the way content is viewed on the internet, there will be repercussions. When there’s a will, there’s a way and when the need arises, internet and technology can work together to cripple such obstacles.
If the situation arises, the ISP market will see competition in the form of companies who would offer net neutrality as a service. Practically speaking, something like this might prove to be difficult to implement as not all areas will have access to such a service.
From the moment of its inception, the internet has revolutionized communication. It has enabled people and brands to grow and prosper free of cost. Taking away such a liberty might not be a good idea, but right now this is just a game of wait and watch.