What Does the Debate on Net Neutrality Mean for Content Marketers?

The internet has become an integral part of modern life. It is considered a great equalizer. But is it, really? The topic of net neutrality, which in the simplest terms, means keeping the internet open, has captured the imagination of the public. This week, discussions on the regulation of the internet will move to Congress. FCC commissioner Tom Wheeler is expected to present net neutrality rules to the House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology. The commission is attempting to create a level-playing field on the internet, or enforce net neutrality, which has its detractors (notably the chairperson of the aforementioned subcommittee Greg Walden). However, FCC is also saying that the pay-to-play fast lane does not compromise net neutrality.

Let’s examine the FCC’s conclusion from the context of content marketers. If pay-to-play is enforced, internet service providers (ISPs) will charge different websites different rates based on speed requirements. Some websites will take a lot less time to load than others. Obviously, this means the internet-using public will prefer sites with the speed advantage. Consider, for example, NetFlix’s recent deals with Verizon and Comcast to receive more reliable services (read faster connections). NetFlix will be hiking prices pretty soon as well, so you have to pay up to enjoy fast speed. But NetFlix is rich, as are big brands with an internet presence. Pay-to-play will deflate smaller players without the money power to book their spots in the fast lane. Up-and-coming websites will stand no chance against richer, established players. Innovation will suffer and the value of the internet as an equal and open platform will erode.

Non-neutrality will also affect channels that brands don’t own but control : social media, which is an important part of content marketing. When websites have to fork up cash to enter the fast lane, you can expect them to make up for the expenditure by hiking ad rates and fees for promoted posts. In a nutshell, lack of net neutrality will make the internet less diverse, and have serious repercussions for content marketers. Share your thoughts on net neutrality and what you feel are solutions that can prevent non-neutrality.

Photo by Jason Rosoff / A Jason Rosoff blog