The FCC repealed net neutrality in a highly contested decision that likely will influence the future of online marketing as we know it. “Net neutrality” refers to the idea that internet service providers (ISPs) must treat all websites equally, which means they cannot block, throttle (slow down page loading times) or charge for access to certain websites. With net neutrality repealed, there will likely be a lengthy court battle ahead to determine whether or not ISPs should be allowed so much control over consumers’ internet usage.
Assuming net neutrality is truly repealed, how will this affect online marketing? It could lead to higher marketing costs for services you pay little to nothing for right now, and audiences might back away from using certain websites and social platforms if their ISPs block them or charge extra for access. For a real-world example, Portugal doesn’t have net neutrality and allows ISPs to charge different amounts for access to separate services (e.g., 5 euros for access to messaging, plus another 5 euros for access to social media). This could be very damaging for the future of video marketing content in particular, which takes up more bandwidth to load.
Wondering how the possible demise of net neutrality could affect your marketing approach online? Here are some things to consider:
Higher Marketing Costs
If ISPs are permitted to prioritize certain websites over others, then small and medium marketing companies (any company, really), might be in for some bad luck. Huge corporations and marketing agencies can afford to pay ISPs to ensure their customers are fast-tracked to their websites, but smaller companies risk hurting their profit margins to keep up. An added downside is that if you don’t pony up extra money to pay ISPs for faster loading times, then you risk website visitors bouncing from your page due to frustratingly slow load times.
Reduced Audiences on Social Media
Imagine what would happen if American Internet users suddenly had to pay an additional fee just to access their social media accounts (in addition to what they already pay monthly for their internet service). Many people would probably stay, but a good chunk of social users might flee from the platforms instead of paying a few extra dollars per month to access a previously free service. This means that social media marketers in particular might be hard hit by the end of net neutrality because audiences will shrink and advertising costs might go up as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and others have to pay ISPs more money to ensure their users get fast access to their accounts.
All in all, the end of net neutrality is a huge deal for anyone who uses the internet, but especially for those who primarily use online marketing campaigns. We can only hope the FCC’s decision will be overturned in the courts, but until then, it’s best to start thinking about how you can revise your marketing strategy to account for changes to internet policies and ISP surcharges that might come in the future.