Have you heard the term, “net neutrality,” in the news recently? I admit, this topic only recently crossed my radar since I usually focus more on social media, blogging, and digital marketing articles.
It turns out that net neutrality actually has huge implications for folks like myself who rely heavily on the Internet for writing, research and online marketing. With its potential impact on Internet carriers and the millions of people who access the Internet, net neutrality must not be ignored.
What is it?
According to PC Magazine:
“…[Net(work) neutrality] refers to the absence of restrictions or priorities placed on the type of content carried over the Internet by the carriers and ISPs that run the major backbones. It states that all traffic be treated equally…”
Clear as mud, right? Another explanation via AdAge Digital clarified it for me:
“If net neutrality goes away — a federal appeals court temporarily defanged the FCC’s decree last week — the cost of doing business online could skyrocket.”
That line grabbed my attention and should probably capture yours, too. I expect a lot of myths and rumors to start flying around regarding the FCC’s net neutrality ruling, so I am choosing to provide some truths about it from a B2B marketing standpoint.
Truth #1: Net neutrality creates an even playing field among content providers of all sizes
Net neutrality currently benefits B2B buyers.
Many B2B leads do most of their research online. By doing so, they learn a lot about the companies that provide the solutions for which they are shopping. Having the knowledge at their fingertips allows them to feel well-informed as they make their purchasing decisions. A neutral Internet provides every business, regardless of size or revenue, with the freedom to both do their research online and to be found online.
If net neutrality goes away, only companies with the ability to pay more for their Internet access will continue to have any flexibility with what they see online. Those B2B buyers who are forced to pay for sub-standard Internet access may receive limited information, and will only see what their ISPs allow them to see.
Truth #2: The end of net neutrality may mean the death of small business online
This is an ugly truth. A complete end to net neutrality could mean the beginning of a completely sponsored Internet experience for its users.
The SMBs and large companies with high revenue streams should have no problems paying the giant ISPs to share their content. As such, they will be able to maintain a prominent place in the online marketing world. Great for them, but not so much for the small businesses that lack the resources to pay for premium Internet access, much less paying for their content to be seen. This means we may see fewer and fewer small B2Bs online, which may end up hurting them in the “real world” as well.
Truth #3: The Court’s ruling on net neutrality means more opportunity for advertisers
The internet has evolved in leaps and bounds since its inception. We have gone from experiencing a very slow, text-only Internet to one with rapidly streaming videos and vivid images, as well as abundant textual content. However, this high quality content is expensive to transmit and the Internet carriers are right in demanding more compensation.
An end to net neutrality could create large opportunities for B2Bs with deep pockets in the area of advertising. Sponsored data programs, such as one recently announced by AT&T, may be the start of businesses becoming “heroes” for the consumer as they, the brands, will be shelling out so we can still access the Internet. Of course, this means putting up with more online ads, so the online experience will still be altered.
Which side of net neutrality are you on? I would love to hear your thoughts. Add a comment below.
Jennifer G. Hanford is the owner and managing director of j+ Media Solutions, which offers social and content services to small B2B companies. You can tweet her at @jennghanford.