How the FCC Net Neutrality Ruling Can Hurt Advertising for Publishers

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Digital marketers know that their websites will receive superior Search Engine Results Page (SERP) ranking based on a number of factors. One of these factors is affected by the recent FCC ruling on net neutrality.

What Is Bounce Rate?

The bounce rate is a metric that measures the percentage of website visitors who navigate away from the site after only visiting one page. If you search for a keyword and land on a blog from the search results, you might notice that the sidebar and/or the bottom of the blog post are filled with links to other blog posts, usually under a heading entitled “You might also like” or words to that effect. That’s an effort by the publisher of the blog to reduce the site’s bounce rate. The idea there is that you’ll see another blog post that piques your interest, usually similar to the post that got you there in the first place, and you’ll be tempted to click the link and hang around on the site for a little while longer.

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The bounce rate measures the percentage of website visitors who leave after visiting just one page.

What Does The Bounce Rate Have To Do With The FCC Ruling?

What does the bounce rate have to do with the recent FCC ruling on net neutrality and why should this ruling interest online marketers? Because the FCC ruling could affect a website’s bounce rate.

On a 3-to-2 party line vote, the FCC voted to ban Internet Service Providers (ISPs) from slowing the traffic of all websites. They did, however, give ISPs the option to facilitate faster load times for certain websites.

People who oppose net neutrality believe that ISPs should not have an option to load certain websites at faster speeds than others.

This affects Search Engine Optimization (SEO) professionals and digital marketers because slow load speeds for certain websites could lead to higher bounce rates. If the website takes a long time to load, it’s likely that visitors will just go back to the search results and try to find another website with similar information. That will boost the site’s bounce rate and ultimately affect its SERP rank.

Beyond that, web page advertisements might not be loaded as fast as the rest of the website. Usually, ads are served from another remote server, different from the one serving the web page. If the ads are slow to load, then visitors might not ever see them. That affects the click-through rate (CTR) and cost per thousand impressions (CPM) metrics that are important to online marketers.

Brandon Schakola is a self-proclaimed tech geek and group director of earned media at The Search Agency. He said that the FCC’s ruling could result in a guessing game among digital marketers about how to allocate advertising money. “You end up with a fractured demographic,” he said. “It affects time-based content like the type that serves up on a mobile device.”

The ruling is only a recommendation at this point. The FCC is taking comments about net neutrality until July 15.

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