Kiss Your Ads Goodbye: How Net Neutrality May Impact Content & Advertising
Rebecca Murtagh, June 10, 2014
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One could argue that the discussion around Net Neutrality has been designed to be so boring and complex that ordinary consumers and entrepreneurs tune it out. By design? Let’s not be cynical. It is important we understand how proposed rules could impact every household, content provider and advertiser in the U.S.
Net Neutrality – Unplugged
Your initial instinct may be to gloss over the battle of Net Neutrality. However, proposed rules could directly impact the distribution of content, as well as the effectiveness of online advertising by businesses and brands unable to “pay to play.”
Internet Would No Longer Offer Level Playing Field
Net neutrality has been the topic of hot debate and discussion for years.
On May 15, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted in favor of the preliminary proposal that will allow “fast lanes” on the Internet.
In realistic terms, most businesses and brands may view this as a fight for streaming video services to take on with cable television and telecom companies. Yet, the policy could impact them directly where it really counts – the bottom line.
What is Net Neutrality?
Net Neutrality implies equal access to broadband and content. Proposed rules would require that ISPs (Internet Service Providers) treat all Internet traffic – even that of competitors – equally. And, the proposed rules would prevent ISPs from blocking content.
However, the proposal set forth by FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, a former lobbyist for cable companies, would allow ISPs to engage in “commercially reasonable” traffic management. It would allow also provide broadband providers a framework that would enable them to establish and charge for “fast lane” access to consumers.
Translation: Rather than the “level playing field” that currently exists, ISPs like Cox, Comcast (soon to include Time Warner), AT&T, and Verizon will be able to charge more for faster speeds and reliably delivery of content to customers. Large content platforms may be able to absorb or charge for premium fees. However, smaller content producers could find themselves at a distinct disadvantage. As a result, consumers will likely find themselves paying more for content across platforms.
ISPs vs Content Creators and Distributors
Proposed rules appear to place consumers and tech giants like Google, Facebook, eBay, Amazon, Netflix, etc. on the same side of a major issue.
ISPs have invested heavily in lobbying the government for the right to manage Internet traffic in the proposed two-tier system.
More than 100 tech companies have responded with a letter urging the FCC to protect users and technology companies against blocking, discrimination, and paid prioritization on fixed and mobile platforms.
Net Neutrality According to John Oliver
In today’s culture, comedy has become a highly effective method of delivery for concepts people may not be inclined to research independently. The YouTube video below by John Oliver of the HBO show “Last Week Tonight” pokes fun while quite effectively explaining Net Neutrality, from his point of view. The video has been viewed 2.3 million times. The response to his call for viewers to post comments brought the website FCC.gov down.