Net neutrality: what the virtual protest means for marketers and consumers

The net neutrality debate is heating up once more. Known as the Internet-Wide Day of Action to Save Net Neutrality on July 12, this protest will draw attention to the potential impact that loosening internet regulations will have on consumers.

Net neutrality: the future of the internet / Courtesy of battleforthenet.com

For marketers, there is a potential for telecommunications companies, such as Comcast or Verizon, to stand in the way of providing digital content if relaxed regulations are approved.

“The net neutrality debate affects the ability of marketers or brands (big and small) to target and reach their consumers with relevant content,”’ said Chris Olson, CEO of The Media Trust, “The digital advertising industry will be impacted should telcos throttle video streaming or charge consumers extra for certain content formats. The onus remains on marketers to work with credible digital supply chain partners to deliver a well-rounded user experience, which requires the development, adoption and enforcement of policies that address content behavior, tracking activity, and safer, malware-free user experiences.”

Organizing groups, Fight for the Future, Free Press Action Fund, and Demand Progress, are looking to draw attention to the consumer impact of net neutrality regulations, which include the potential to have to pay for faster internet connection or blocked content.

“The FCC’s plan to dismantle net neutrality will unfairly pad the bottom lines of Comcast and the rest of Big Cable, while undermining the public’s ability to freely communicate, organize, and innovate,” said Mark Stanley, communications director, Demand Progress, one of the cosponsoring organizations, in a statement. “Every few years, a threat so severe confronts the open internet that people, organizations, and companies from across the political spectrum — including some of the largest online platforms — must band together in common cause to fight back.”

As far as the buy-in for the digital protest, over 180 companies and organizations, including Vimeo, Netflix, GitHub and Reddit are signed on, and the protest is estimated to involve over 50,000 participants during the day.

“Net neutrality made it possible for Vimeo, along with countless other startups, to innovate and thrive,” said Michael Cheah, General Counsel, Vimeo, in a statement. “On July 11, Vimeo will proudly join our fellow tech brethren to rally Internet users nationwide to demand strong net neutrality rules to prevent ISPs from manipulating Internet traffic.”

The protest will work to simulate what would happen if new FCC Chairman Ajit Pai loosens the FCC regulations that were enacted in 2015 under the Open Internet Order. In digital protest, sites will simulate a “spinning wheel of death,” blocked notifications, and requests to upgrade to paid plans.

“Clearly, consumers expect a safe, non-annoying, easy-to-consume experience, and many are willing to pay for it,” Olson said. “Publishers — media, e-commerce, travel, finance, insurance — are rewarded in the form of increased page views and subscriptions.”

Get The Drum Newsletter

Build your marketing knowledge by choosing from daily news bulletins or a weekly special.