If Net Neutrality Ends, What Happens to Digital Media?
Net Neutrality is the foundation upon which some of the most successful and innovative businesses have been built. Would Facebook, Instagram, Uber (forgetting about their troubles), AirBnB, PayPal or any of the host of game-changing businesses have had an opportunity to dislodge old and outdated business models if the very platform that gave them life was controlled by competing businesses? I think the answer is definitely not. When people with a better idea attempt to be successful within an environment created and controlled by an industry that only stands to lose by the very existence of their idea, innovation slows to a crawl and more often than not, it dies completely. The end of Net Neutrality will likely mark the beginning of the end for the stay-at-home mom, and others like her, with great ideas to turn an entire category upside down overnight.
So, what will digital media’s future look like without net neutrality?
With the vote coming tomorrow, 12/14, it’s important that digital media agencies mentally prepare for the potential impact the new guidelines will have on our campaign strategies and media buying habits.
The points below are all assumptions, theories, and not-yet-officials. But, allow me to give a preview of the thoughts of someone in the digital trenches:
The likely state of internet consumerism:
More expensive packages offered to consumers may be ad-free
The more frugal buyer and the lower income households may not be able to or won’t allow themselves to purchase more expensive packages
More affordable packages will likely have slower internet speeds and/or access to less content
Packages could be content category-based or could give priority to preferred partners with added fees for additional sites, content, etc.
The potential impact:
Less digital inventory available for purchase will lead to increased costs in the digital space
The frugal audience might be harder to find and therefore competition to reach available users could increase costs for brands targeting the middle-to-lower income household
Behavioral targeting might become more accurate as households can be segmented based on what they’ve prioritized purchasing (e.g. prioritizing ESPN video content streaming over having access to social platforms)
If packages give priority to preferred partners rather than content category-based, there’s a possibility that this will shake up the SEO industry
There may be a heavier government crackdown on ad fraud and botnets as digital inventory becomes more expensive
There could still be many outcomes. It depends on the result of the vote, the types of packages offered by providers if new guidelines are passed and adopted, and the speed at which changes are implemented. The important part is to stay alert and aware of what is happening in the industry.
And if you’re like me, overthink it a little. It just might give you and your agency an edge if the state of the internet shifts to a new era in 2018.
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