Net Neutrality R.I.P.
On Monday, June 11th, 2018, the repeal of net neutrality took full effect. And if you still aren’t sure what exactly net neutrality is, then let us explain.
Net neutrality is the principle that internet providers must give consumers access to the internet equally, and those providers cannot interfere with that access depending on how much money a consumer or internet sites pays to their providers. So, what does this mean?
For the consumer, it means that you get equal access to everything on the internet. You don’t have to buy a separate or a more expensive plan just to go on Facebook or Twitter. And for business owners, it means your website or app speed isn’t being slowed down because you can’t afford a more expensive plan to reach all potential viewers.
On the flip side, an example of a non-net neutral system would be Portugal. It offers separate data plans for social media, messaging, email (yup, that’s separate from messaging) and music apps. Want to listen to music on Spotify and scroll through your Facebook feed? Pay up, money bags!
But, it’s the first few days of no more net neutrality. The internet didn’t break and no flashing “OBEY” signs came through our screens from the internet overlords. What gives?
Net neutrality will be a slow and creeping death. The internet and tech titans of industry have promised to remain true to the “principles” of net neutrality. "Our commitment to an open internet will not waver, just as our customers expect and deserve," AT&T Executive Vice President Joan Marsh. Let’s hope AT&T’s past three net neutrality violations got it all out of their system.
These companies may void acts that were once violations, mostly because these companies are being watched like a hawk. The slightest step out of line can bring on a downpour of lawsuits and overall negative press. But eventually that will change.
So what can we expect in a post-net neutral America for business owners?
For business owners that have an online presence, marketing can go into a downward spiral with a non-neutral internet, starting with your website.
Website Speed & Conversion Rates
It will now become a time where you must pay to play. Internet providers could charge you more just so your website can run at a normal speed. If you can’t afford the higher price, expect your website to start running slower; this can deter visitors from your site altogether before it even load. As a matter of fact, sites that load faster face a 16.5% higher conversion rate, leading to more revenue [RY1]. Slower speeds can hurt your business revenue overall, especially if it comes from an eCommerce site.
Even the ads aren’t safe. Much like a slow website, if the landing page for your ad has lower speed, people are very likely to leave before your landing page loads. This is essentially a huge waste of your ad money! You’ll be charged for clicks for someone who hasn’t even viewed your landing page because it took too long to load.
Even if you don’t run an eCommerce site, you’ll still want your business website or app working towards creating a searchable online presence. This is where your slow speed turns into a domino effect. If you have too many bounces from your website (i.e. your site was taking too long to load so people just went to a different site), your Google search ranking will take a dive. The companies with the fullest coffers will be able to pay for that top ranking. Can’t pay up? Have fun on page 5 of a Google search.
While text was never technically protected under net neutrality, audio and video communications tools were. With those protections lifted, providers can now target audio and video communication applications with slower connections. Unless you pay more, of course.
In today’s modern landscape of remote working, many companies rely on communication tools to work with team members, including Rizzo Young Marketing. Open communication is a cornerstone of every business and now it comes at a higher price.
What can we do?
There are realistically only three things that can be done. The first, is to hope that the internet providers are being truthful about respecting and upholding the principles of net neutrality. Failing that, ensure that you include the additional internet charges into your business’ budget to maintain status quo digital performance.
But that kind of feels like a defeat. So a third option is this: Let your senators and congressmen know you support net neutrality. There are some states that are trying to pass their own laws for in state net neutrality.
For more information on how net neutrality affects your business, send us a message at RizzoYoungMarketing.com.
[RY1] How sites increase conversions