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Why Publishers Should Act on Net Neutrality

The legal and policy debate around net neutrality is raging following the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) decision to repeal the rules established in 2015. This repeal, which was passed in December, should take effect on 23 April.

US states are making efforts to counter the repeal, with Washington being the first state to pass laws preventing Internet service providers (ISPs) from slowing down or blocking online content. Many other states, including California, Montana, New Jersey, New York, Hawaii and Vermont, are also taking steps to maintain network neutrality.

The FCC thinks that it has the power to oversee Internet services because the Internet data is beyond the state's borders, and the decision of last year has attempted to prevent states from defining their own laws.

Various commercial groups also enter the debate. The Internet Association (IA), which represents the likes of Google, Facebook, Amazon, Etsy and Airbnb, has written a letter to the Senate to support a law aimed at "restoring strong and enforceable net neutrality protections at the national level." federal". The American Cable Association (ACA), which represents various ISPs, supports the repeal of the net neutrality rules, and has even filed a petition to intervene in a legal battle going on in support of the FCC.

Amidst all the policies, it's easy to lose sight of the real issues behind net neutrality, what will be the impact on publishers if the FCC repeals the Open Internet Order as planned on April 23 and what actions can they take? to prepare for this eventuality?

Bias enters the space of publication

Net Neutrality guarantees consumers equal and neutral access to the entire Web through their chosen provider. It prevents ISPs from blocking access to certain content or instructing publishers to deliver their content faster.

If the net neutrality rules are repealed, ISPs will have the power to slow down some websites and speed up others, either because they own them or because They were paid to do it. This will probably result in a fast track Internet split for publishers who can afford to pay and low traffic routes for the rest.

ISPs will also be able to bill consumers for different types of content, as cable TV providers currently do. They can bundle the content of some publishers as part of their offering – so that consumers will not have to pay extra to access or count against mobile data plans – while billing them for money. access to everything else.

This discriminatory behavior could be catastrophic for small independent publishers who will not be able to pay ISPs for preferential treatment and may see visitor levels and associated revenues drop. It will also be disastrous for the freedom of expression and open exchange of ideas for which the Internet was designed.

Imagine, for example, that a particular Internet service provider offers free and fast access to a big news brand as part of its Internet package, with consumers having to pay extra for slower access to from other sources of information. PSI customers would naturally be more inclined to consume content than this brand new, which would give it an excessive degree of influence.

With 129 million Americans limited to a single broadband ISP provider, the handful of publishers who can afford to enter into agreements with suppliers will quickly gain a monopoly.

Publishers Can Take Control

One-way publishers can take steps to write or call representatives of Congress and Senators, showing that they support net neutrality. There is still a small chance that Congress can overthrow the FCC using the Congressional Review Act


The Battle for the Net website facilitates this process by providing emails, phone numbers, and sample scripts. It also provides information on pro-net neutrality events, or meetings with representatives, that take place across the country. Independent publishers may feel that their voices are too small to be heard, but by joining a broader collaborative movement, they can still make a difference.

There are also steps that publishers can take to prepare for the repeal of network neutrality, and the first is to maintain or increase the standards of content. Consumers are accessing niche websites because they are interested in the content and find it meaningful for their current stage of life. High quality content that reflects special interests of life or work, created by passionate and enthusiastic experts, will always be attractive to a specific audience. The end of network neutrality can make it more difficult for consumers to access this type of content, but if it is really useful to them, they may be ready to make an extra effort.

The second step is to make websites light and fast to load in order to reduce the negative impact of limiting potential bandwidth. This means reducing the clutter of ads (which is a good thing for many other reasons), maybe just having one or two ads per page. As long as these ads are very relevant to the content of the page and that they are well placed – ideally, they are loaded into view at the end of an article rather than at the top – they can generate as much revenue as several ads of lesser value. on the page, if not more.

The repeal of network neutrality laws is a major concern for any publisher who can not pay ISPs for preferential treatment. Now is the time to rally to the FCC's decision, while preparing for the advent of an Internet that is no longer an equal playground where content can be created, accessed, shared and consumed equally by all.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. The authors of the staff are listed here.

About the author

Andy Evans is a long-time digital entrepreneur who launched his first business at the age of 15. Andy founded the international digital advertising sales company Net Communities Limited in 1999, which he sold to Future plc. In July 2015, he co-founded OnScroll, an award-winning visibility technology provider, which he sold to Sovrn Holdings, Inc. in April 2016. Passionate about technology and gadgets, his first computer was a Sinclair ZX-81 in 1981.He worked on all aspects of the print and digital publishing industry, in an advertising agency and, more recently, ad tech. Since the acquisition of OnScroll, he has joined Sovrn's management team to integrate and manage his European operations with Sovrn and recently took on the role of the brand's Chief Brand Marketing Officer in the world.

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