Three Ways the Net Neutrality Repeal Might Affect Marketers

It’s something you’ve heard about quite frequently over the last six months: net neutrality. Initially enacted in 2015, net neutrality was officially repealed this month. Net neutrality was meant to keep the Internet a fair, open playing field by making sure Internet Service Providers (ISPs)—like AT&T and Spectrum—would treat all web traffic equally. Protections included:

  • Blocking – ISPs could not discriminate against any lawful content by blocking access to websites or apps.
  • Throttling – ISPs could not slow the transmission of data because of the nature of the content, as long as the content was legal.
  • Paid Prioritization – ISPs could not create an Internet ‘fast lane’ for companies and consumers who paid premiums, and a ‘slow lane’ for those who didn’t.1

The Federal Communications Commission (F.C.C.) and supporters of the repeal maintain the positivity of the change – stating that ISPs were previously restrained from experimenting with new business models and investing in new technologies. However, businesses and marketers alike are concerned that the repeal may cause an unfair environment that impacts how small-to-medium businesses (SMBs), with smaller budgets than large corporations, can compete in a crowded marketplace.

What Does This Mean for Your Marketing Efforts?
With the potential for ISPs to create an “internet fast lane,” you may be facing barriers to entry as you look to sell through your website, social media and other online advertising venues. Explore three ways the repeal of Net Neutrality may impact your marketing plan.

  • Digital marketing efforts may hold less value. The news source you’re targeting through PR efforts? They may face online competition that prevents your target audience from reading its content through its digital platform. The SEO strategy you put into place? It may need to shift to accommodate new best practices to compete against larger corporations in site load time, prioritization and more.
  • The composition of your digital media buy may change. With more and more spending shifting to digital – eMarketer predicts 18.7% growth this year in digital ad spending2 – marketers may need to revisit how they allocate their media dollars. Potential changes may include a greater focus on digital advertising through ISPs due to their ability to place content more efficiently.
  • Access to your content may diminish. While ISPs have committed to keeping a level playing field, marketers fear competitive blocking, access fees or unequal availability to all of their customers. Whether you’re a company looking to offer access to free content, or an SMB looking to sell through an e-commerce platform, a multi-channel marketing strategy will be more important than ever to create brand awareness and drive sales.

What Are My Next Steps?
Time will tell how net neutrality may actually impact you as a marketer. In the meantime, it’s important to continue exploring a multi-channel marketing strategy that includes both traditional and digital platforms. By building reputation and strengthening awareness, you’ll be prepared for what might be to come.

Partnering with an agency that specializes in multi-channel marketing strategies will increase your ability to adapt to the ever-changing digital landscape. Contact us today to get started.

1 New York Times, 2018
2 Forbes, 2018

About the Author:

Allison Kucek, Account Manager Allison focuses on managing integrated programs for clients with a strong emphasis on developing strategies to drive business results. With a particular focus on content strategy and execution, Allison’s responsibilities include branding, public relations, social media, and digital marketing.