Net Neutrality and Digital Marketing Predictions [Q&A with Chuck Aikens]

Net Neutrality and Digital Marketing Predictions [Q&A with Chuck Aikens]

Wonder how a future without Net Neutrality might affect the world of digital marketing?

We recently sat down with Volume Nine’s founder, Chuck Aikens, to ask him about the potential effects and what brands can do to prepare themselves.

First Off, What is Net Neutrality?

Chuck: “As it relates to business, Net Neutrality provides a level playing field for new companies and innovative services because ISPs have to allow access to the Internet without interference.

Without Net Neutrality, ISPs could pick and choose which parts of the Internet customers can browse based on what they are paying.

This means that your clients’ could potentially have to pay extra money to ISPs to ensure that their websites/content are accessible to their audience.  This could also mean that customers could be restricted from using your clients’ website or app.”

What could this mean for digital marketing agencies?

Chuck: “Agencies and in-house specialists have helped small business compete with Amazon and the top dogs in their respective industry with innovation, creative content, and determination.

If net neutrality is lost, the digital marketing industry will stand to lose because smaller companies will have to spend more of their marketing budget just to ‘relevel’ the playing field.

Is there an area of digital that you think would become obsolete?

Chuck: “I don’t think PPC would be affected, but I think content marketing is in trouble if websites don’t pay to play. If readers can’t access certain content, why would companies use resources to develop it?”

Is there an area of digital that will become more important?

Chuck: “Paying ISPs so users can access your website will become more important. Pay to play.”

What are some ways new businesses and startups can prepare for the repeal of net neutrality?

Chuck: “If your brand is in demand, the ISPs will want to give your website to customers. In order to become a brand in demand, you’ll need to build content. People always to want to read content– whether it’s recipes, entertainment, or news. ISPs can’t turn that off because then no users will want to use them.

“The guys that will be in trouble are the sites that just sell a product or professional service and haven’t thought about how to create content that the end user will want.”

What do you think Google will do if this is repealed?

Chuck: “They’re first going to have to get friendly with the ISPs, probably have to pay money. They might actually be okay with that because it could suppress competitors.

“Yeah, they’re going to have to spend money; there’s nothing else they can do. It will be interesting to watch as Google develops The Andriod–they will be ready to fight the ISPs.”

How could this affect Google’s Algorithm?

Chuck: “One possibility is that Google works with ISPs to identify or filter down the tiers, almost like a custom search engine. That way, for someone on Verizon, Google will build a small search engine just for tier one or tier 2 websites. That could be a possibility.”

What do you think Facebook will do if this is repealed?

Chuck: “It’s interesting for any website where smaller brands can potentially bubble up in newsfeeds. It’s going to be tough on users when they can’t access those websites. Facebook will have to come up with a way to identify what users can click on. This will surely be a technology challenge; they may have to build a restricted or segmented list.”

In your opinion, is there anything good about the repeal of net neutrality?

Chuck: “If you’re sitting there as a brand new brand, you could just pay the fee and be able to skip building brand, website pages, and authority. For those that have the money or funding, you can pass “Go” which Google doesn’t allow these days. That could be good for some businesses.

“For a free market perspective, it does create a counterbalance to Google, Facebook, and Amazon who have so much control and so much data.  You at least have a new party showing up that can battle with them. They could tip the scales of who owns the bulk of the advertising dollars. In the future, you may be able to buy traffic directly from the ISP– without paying Google or Facebook for ads.”

End Interview

The rules go up for a vote in a few weeks, on December 14th, which they’re almost certain to pass based on the composition of the five-person committee.  Then there is a 10-day appeal window which will put this into the hands of the courts, perhaps even eventually the U.S. Supreme Court.

If you want to learn more about Net Neutrality and its effects on digital marketing, check out this Whiteboard Friday video from Rand from Moz.org.  If you want to show your support, you can visit https://www.savetheinternet.com/.