Web Ad Rivals Unite on Net Neutrality Plea to Senate

Google, Yahoo, IAC/InterActiveCorp, Amazon and eBay, themselves rivals for online marketing dollars, sent a letter yesterday to every Senator, hoping to get Net neutrality language added to a telecommunications bill before it comes before the full Senate. At stake are untold ad dollars associated with high bandwidth content such as video.

“Absent strong network neutrality provisions, consumers will no longer have the freedom to choose content from thousands of sources on the open Internet,” the letter reads.

The companies are hoping to add language guaranteeing Net neutrality to Senate bill 2686, the Advanced Telecommunications and Opportunity Reform act. An amendment to that effect, introduced by Senators Olympia Snowe and Byron Dorgan, had been considered in the Senate Commerce Committee, but was narrowly defeated in late June by an 11 to 11 vote.

The Internet giants are battling telecom and cable players, who feel that their investment in the Net’s infrastructure entitles them to charge content players for delivery, especially of high-bandwidth media like video. The debate comes as many of the infrastructure players prepare their own video offerings, which would likely get preferential treatment in any two-tiered structure.

“Their desire, and they’ve been frank about it, is to use their control over broadband to control consumers’ experience on the Internet, which has never happened before,” said Maura Corbett, a spokesperson for the It’s Our Net Coalition, which includes Google, Amazon.com, eBay, Yahoo and IAC/InterActiveCorp. “Video is a key component to this. These guys want to make money on IPTV (define) and streaming video that is not theirs or affiliated with theirs.”

Companies advocating for Net neutrality are warning that they’ll use every tool in their arsenal to fight a two-tiered system. Google VP and “Internet Evangelist” Vinton Cerf earlier this week warned his company would use antitrust law to sue any company that blocked access to its content.

Video, and the high-CPM ad dollars associated with it, are some of the most promising up-and-coming content areas online. Both Internet-only players and traditional media companies with video assets are gearing up offerings to take advantage of the growth in the broadband-enabled audience.

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