Today, Congress voted, mostly along party lines, to approve a bill that overturns the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) regulations pertaining to the way ISPs (like Comcast and AT&T) collect and market its customers data and web-browsing history. The regulations that were overturned required ISP providers to get customers’ permission to market their app and web browsing history to third parties. FCC privacy rules are changing.
President Trump is expected to sign the bill into law. The results of this change will see big broadband companies and their treasure troves of consumer data competing more directly with big media companies like Google, Facebook and Amazon. These three and a myriad of others are governed by rules from the less stringent Federal Trade Commission. A lot of the opportunity comes down to data gathering, data targeting and big data analysis.
What does this mean for the advertising community? It depends on who you are.
1. If you’re a big media company
You are now seeing the emergence of competitive threats that have substantial coffers filled with cash and a slew of first party audience data tied to digital behaviors. Amazon was the only party that had, and had the ability to sell, Amazon data. With this new law the ISPs will be able to use that same data tied to Amazon web traffic and target users based on the portion of Amazon traffic that flows through the ISP’s pipes. Will this create a marketplace for Amazon – lite data, or Facebook – lite data? Will big media companies be faced with competitive threats from more generic forms of their audience data? We’ll find out.
2. If you’re a marketer or agency
Expect to see new targeting opportunities, more entrants into the digital advertising space and a flood of audience data. This means more targeting options and pricing competition against the large platforms. Will the ISPs be able to inject their ads more directly into the user experience? This can happen how with IP targeting through proprietary tech from third party companies like SEMcasting and AcquireWeb.
3. If you’re an ad tech company
Expect companies including Drawbridge, Oracle and others jump on the opportunity to access directly defined audience browsing habits tied to wifi signals and home internet use. This move has the potential to make probabilistic cross-device targeting (which is already very strong) even closer to deterministic/
4. If you’re a consumer
Expect to see more targeted advertising based on your ISP recorded web surfing behavior. Your ISP web surfing data will be integrated into the market of data aggregators and data suppliers. Advertisers will have a deeper and more nuanced view of your behaviors, interests and purchase habits.
You may also see the rise of competitive broadband providers who want your data in order to be in the advertising business, and offer free connectivity service as an incentive to access your data. This has happened before and I can see a way for it to happen again.
Finally, maybe this creates an opportunity for an ISP positioned to maintain your privacy. Though smaller, this type of market positioning could help launch a startup ISP provider.