Will Advertising Ultimately Drive Net Neutrality?

Will Advertising Ultimately Drive Net NeutralityThe FCC is actively considering new regulations to oversee the Internet and ensure access to services remain “fair and competitive” to consumers. So far, the discussion has centered on access to content, but what if the real battleground is ads. Will advertising ultimately drive net neutrality?

Many internet companies, including Google, Facebook and most mobile apps provide services and generate revenue from advertising inserted in the content delivered to the user device. But what is the internet companies – whether wired or wireless – decide that they could block website or app advertising and instead insert their own ads? Would websites quickly rush to the FCC for relief?

The technology already exists. Real –time threat software companies have started to morph their offerings to identify ads. Once identified, insertion technology could quickly replace the ad in a manner similar to cable TV and local ad insertion. One of these companies is Shine and its AdSight product that allows wireless carriers to monitor what ads are being delivered through the wireless network, then selectively block those ads.

Even if not substituted, the blocked ads create a set of targeted customers for the carriers who want to go directly and sell advertising. Both Verizon and AT&T deny that they “manipulate content”, but a number of European companies are rumored to be testing the service.

I’m with the experts that think it would be insane for any operator to try to use technology like this. It would quickly elicit a response from regulatory bodies. And from my experience European regulators are much more aggressive than the FCC.

But what about profit sharing in exchange for faster delivery? Would a consumer favor one news or weather site based on a significantly faster load time? And if so, would the site be willing to revenue share with the carrier? This seems to make a lot more sense, and could be facilitated by technology similar to what Shine is promoting.

Keep your eyes on this space. The net neutrality fight is a long way from over, and technologists will find a way to exploit whatever final rules are established.

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