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The end of net-neutrality – five benefits for marketers

Is the telco the new super-cookie?

Last night on the 14th December 2017, the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to end “net neutrality” rules by a 3:2 majority.

Businesses offering internet access can now use content-control software to block, throttle or prioritize user access to certain sites or content. This means they’ll have an extra incentive to plunder browsing and behavioral data to offer access plans to audiences with similar viewing and shopping profiles. And sell their insights, profiles, and audience segmentations to digital marketers.

Psychologically, whether this move will undermine or enhance the impact of digital marketing is unclear. Perhaps audiences will trust content they’ve paid for more, and thereby make marketing more effective.  Whilst many commentators are lamenting the death of net-neutrality, here are five benefits and opportunities for digital marketing

  1. It will simplify our life (in the US). Marketing will become – even more – a pay-to-play game; you want people to see your communication, then choose a platform that has sewn up deals with telcos to provide fast un-throttled and unblocked access. This is likely to benefit the digital mega-duopoly in ad-land (Facebook and Google), bringing us closer to the time when we’ll only have to worry about advertising on these two platforms.
  2. Nonsense digital metrics will die. If how many hits or clicks you get depends on the quality of access a telco allows, why measure them? Same goes for page load speed, and by implication Google ranking. In the new post-net-neutrality world, digital marketing is all about money. You pay for eyeballs – it’s that simple. The rest is just conversation.
  3. New opportunities to crush the competition. If you have deep enough pockets, it may soon be possible to not only pay so people get fast access to your site, content, app or sites where your ads sit, but you’ll also be able to pay to degrade access to competitors and their ads.
  4. New possibilities for partnerships. With big platforms such as Amazon, Medium, along with big cloud hosting platforms sewing up deals with telcos for fast unfettered access, the days of hosting your own independent site or content may be numbered. Far better to market and sell on big platforms that guarantee eyeballs and wallets.
  5. Telcos will become tomorrow’s super-cookies by providing useful audience profiling and insight. Mobile telcos already know where people go shop, where they shop – online and offline. With Net Neutrality gone, telcos will have a vested interest in digging deeper into where people go and what they buy – in order to build tiered access plans. The upshot of this is that telcos will be able to sell us useful insight into consumer behavior beyond the cookie.

End of net-neutrality. Good isn’t it?

Written by
Dr Paul Marsden
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Digital wellbeing covers the latest scientific research on the impact of digital technology on human wellbeing. Curated by psychologist Dr. Paul Marsden (@marsattacks). Sponsored by WPP agency SYZYGY.