Net Neutrality’s Effect On Advertising

Net neutrality is a buzzword in the media, and has been so for awhile now. However, as of late, it has taken on even more importance with President Barack Obama speaking out on the matter.274639 l srgb s gl 300x199 Net Neutrality’s Effect On Advertising

Obama has asked the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to adopt tough net neutrality standards. Obama’s comments have posed a challenge to the FCC, as they are the governmental agency that governs internet providers. Net neutrality has long been a topic that has been discussed in the political scene of the United States.

Introduction to net neutrality

So, what is net neutrality, anyway? Coined in 2003, net neutrality, in essence, means that there is no larger entity– whether private, such as an internet provider, or public, such as a government– that prioritizes faster bandwidth, server speeds, etc. for certain of its clients.

Examples as to how this could be an issue are with giving faster internet speed to individuals or firms who pay more money, or slowing internet speeds on sites considered to be rivals. All in all, net neutrality is something that affects us all.

Affecting marketers and advertisers

Something that many don’t realize, however, is that net neutrality could especially affect marketers and advertisers.

It is thought that if net neutrality does not become implemented that smaller firms that advertise will be at a disadvantage as they’ll only be able to buy ads on sites with slower bandwidth. It is expected that ad prices will go up, and many publishers will be forced from an ad-based model to a subscription-based model for their content. This is because for smaller publishers, the revenue from low-quality ads will be far outweighed by what could be gained via a paid model.

It is believed that the big online firms of the world– think Google, Facebook and AOL– would be the first to buy faster and better internet services, leaving every other firm to choose amongst the remains.

Since many broadband providers also compete in other sectors, such as the advertising sector, it is likely that they would have an inherent advantage. Examples of such companies include Verizon and Comcast. It is very possible that without net neutrality that information about an individual’s or firm’s internet usage could be sold.

Leading the charge

Recently, national, mid-sized to large blue-chip firms with excel dashboard data on this topic have been leading the charge for net neutrality. They include Ford, UPS, Bank of America, and Visa– none of whom are tech firms, and see themselves at a major disadvantage with how the laws, or lack thereof, are currently set up.

These firms are pushing for broadband to be reclassified under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934– the same plea that President Obama made. Title II essentially regulates the classification of telecommunications providers; there would be a push for these internet providers to provide equal services to everyone. Internet providers would be treated as a utility, essentially.


It won’t be this easy, however– nothing ever is. Many, such as FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly, believe that the laws on the books that are proposed to be applied are antiquated. He has a point– the Communications Act of 1934 as its name suggests, is 80 years old– even though the legislation was updated 18 years ago. (Even so, O’Rielly argues that no one knew how the internet would work a mere 18 years ago). The FCC has threatened to not apply all sections of the Act to broadband providers should net neutrality in the United States become a thing.


If one feels like they’ll be affected by net neutrality, or just wants to make their voice heard, they can file a form with the FCC voicing their opinions. The public perception of companies like Comcast and AT&T has decreased significantly as of late with their dissent for net neutrality.

So, if a small business, it is probably smart to be vocal for net neutrality. It will give you a chance in the already tough capitalist market of the United States. The smallest advantage can turn into something that makes or breaks a company.

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