Net Neutrality is Dead. What Does This Mean for Digital Advertising?

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On December 14, the Federal Communications Commission voted to repeal the net neutrality regulations set in place by the Obama Administration in 2015. Although this  doesn’t necessarily mean the end of the free internet world, businesses are smart to start preparing for possible challenges in their digital marketing and advertising strategies.

The retraction of net neutrality will have industry-wide and game-changing consequences on how and when consumers engage with content online. This is especially unfortunate at this point in time, as it’s a time of digital innovation for both agencies and the advertising technology industry as a whole. If we’re changing the way users consume information online, it will impact digital advertising’s ability and strategies for growth.

The internet has drastically shifted how brands connect with their consumers through marketing, customer service, e-commerce and more. The loss of net neutrality will influence a change in this consumer engagement with brands. Everything from the time spent online to the number of publishers viewed will be affected. On the flipside, this rollback will also shift how brands and small businesses connect with their consumers and, ultimately, could result in the loss of sales for those all-important members of our economy.

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One of our biggest concerns with the net neutrality repeal is the outlook to reduce diversity and scale within the publishing world. With telcos and ISPs controlling both the content and the method of distribution, there is little incentive or desire for new publishers to enter the marketplace because their content could be harder to access compared to established publishers.

Ultimately, if Congress approves this change, ISPs will have the power to control whose content travels through the pipes at which priority and speed. We could see a lack of diversity and inclusivity of emerging publishers in a time where we really need it. This creates a censorship of sorts across content providers and publishers, and advertisers could have fewer consumers to target online. Along with a downturn in the access to data and online usage, costs will be driven up and overall strategy will be hindered. So, are we ready for that?

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