Net Neutrality: What it means for Ad Tech

“Today is an irrefutable reflection of the principle that no one, whether government or corporate, should control free and open access to the internet.” FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler

Ring the bells, sound the horns – we have achieved Net Neutrality! All cats and kittens may continue their unending leisure, knowing their videos will be delighting viewers sans buffering screens. With that said, we should begin to collectively look forward to what more practical fruits net neutrality will come to bear. For many, this will mean increased competition for home broadband services, resulting in large ISPs actually needing to care about whether or not they call their customers “Asshole”. For advertising technology, the greatest benefit comes down to just one word, specifications.

Since 2012 the IAB’s own specifications for ad units’ systemic operations have largely remained the same. To provide context, this was a time when average broadband speeds in the United States were 6.7 Mbps and ‘Gangnam Style’ still sounded like a flavoring sauce for chicken wings and the iPhone 4S was still the it phone.

Fast forward a few years, rapid technical advancement has continued to help reshape and retool the worldwide economy. Old vanguards of industry continue to be disrupted by more bespoke, user intelligent solutions. So much so that underwear startups are actually a thing. The technical community has continued to make sweeping advances and further democratizing our lives. All of this, while the advertising industry has still been figuring out whether a mobile budget equates to digital budget.

Home broadband speeds however, have been a barrier- 11.5Mbps is the current average in the United States, not even cracking the worldwide top ten for download speeds. It is recommended by Netflix to have a throughput of 25 Mbps for 4K streaming. To say that current speeds are adequate, would be like saying “Flash fulfills all of my web development needs.” Not even remotely true.

To drive the point further, since 2012 mobile devices now have;

66% more RAM

127% more pixels on the screen

650% more computational power

*Calculations based on iPhones 4S and 6 Plus

Coupling the dramatic increase in both the raw power and throughput the time has come to push baseline specifications forward. As an industry we need to account for and embrace the dramatic increase in functionality that would come with such a change. As noted in my previous blog post, there exists a very real need for advertising to become additive to user’s lives. With a strong forward looking edit to existing specifications we can begin to institutionally address this very need.

To set the stage for what this might look like, imagine streaming 3D models of home furnishings directly into a user’s home via technology like Microsoft’s Hololens product. Couple that with the ability to directly edit the furnishing’s position, color and pattern in real time and we can really begin to deliver compelling value to the end user. None of this is possible with k-weight under 2 MB.

Certainly, the entire world struggles to keep pace with advances in technology. Devices are obsolete the moment you buy them, OS updates often outmode older hardware. We simply must continue to strive progress on all fronts. Oh and is too much to ask for some damn hoverboards!?