Today’s marketing efforts are incomplete without the digitization of a part of the process. The digital boom has forced its way into marketing, demanding that marketers drop their conventional wisdom and adapt a hybrid approach which fits better into the modern context.
At the centre of these digital marketing efforts is the content marketer. I’ve always believed that anyone can be an effective content marketer. And the reason for this lies in the inherent property of the Internet; the Internet is a true democracy.
The Internet is the only, true level playing field. And the ability to exploit it allows modern SMEs not just visibility but also the power to acquire and sustain. Think of an Olympic race open to everyone who wishes to run. That is the power of the Internet. And that is what the philosophy of Net Neutrality is.
According to Dan Shewan’s article on WordStream
“Net neutrality is the concept that internet service providers (ISPs) should allow all types of traffic to travel across their networks without discrimination; that all sites and applications should be treated equally, and not subjected to traffic shaping, bandwidth throttling and other means of control that serve ISPs’ commercial interests.” But what does that have to do with content marketing? A lot.
Think of it this way. Net neutrality essentially argues that access to Internet content should be fair. Or that all content, irrespective of who created it, is the same and deserves the digital equality of opportunity. The only criterion is content quality and that is decided by the user. That’s the entire concept on which content marketing and the Google algorithm changes since Panda (to some extent) work. The fact that only content quality is the deciding factor keeps useful and reliable information on the Internet afloat while pushing down low-quality content in this age of the overpopulated Internet. The best content shall survive and thrive.
Net neutrality accepts that everyone with access to the Internet has something unique to offer and this requires a level and equal platform to share. This free flowing exchange of information is the sole reason that Internet communities of any kind were even formed.
However, if content were made inaccessible for some reason, these ideas would come crashing down. Say you were asked to pay for your content to be visible every time you generated new content, you’d probably have to shut shop or reallocate your budget. This would mean that SMEs could never compete in the same space as established businesses with deep pockets.
Challenging net neutrality doesn’t mean that some pieces of your content wouldn’t show up. It would simply mean that ISPs would have the power to slow down a user’s access to your content.
Or, to put it bluntly, you would get speed proportional to the amount you pay. This means that users could stray away from your website without taking the intended action, which may be a purchase, signing up, etc. There is already evidence that links the amount of time that it takes content to load to the click through rate. Remember the Microsoft study that found that the average attention span of an Internet user is 8 seconds? If you’re a content marketer with an insufficient budget to pay for your content to be accessible to users quickly, my guess is you’d probably lose a lot of traffic and a lot of money.
Another aspect of this debate is that the cost of content generation would rise exponentially. Even players willing (and able) to pay for better services will end up paying a great deal more than they would while competing on a level field. The price of content distribution on channels such as social media or advertising would increase many fold.
Here’s the scary part though. There are signals that net neutrality isn’t exactly permanent, as much as we’d like it to be. At the forefront of these suspicions is the way Facebook allows users to share content on its platform. Facebook’s commercial interests often intersect with the net neutrality argument. Basically, if Facebook could supress the reach of your content (without letting you know) and then told you that you could expand your reach by paying, you’d probably do it. And that’s where you challenge net neutrality. That’s why Free Basics was opposed as vehemently as it was. It was the first, clear threat to net neutrality in India.
To sum up, should net neutrality be challenged, it would be the end of our established notions and structures of digital content and search. Think about it. If people like Nandan Nilekani and Vijay Shekhar Sharma strongly opposed Free Basics, citing it was against the spirit of net neutrality, maybe the Internet isn’t as safe as we thought.
Disclaimer: This is a guest post. The statements, opinions and data contained in these publications are solely those of the individual authors and contributors and not of iamwire and the editor(s).
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