KOF Working Papers, KOF Swiss Economic Institute, ETH Zurich 344 [rev.]
We investigate the relation between Net Neutrality regulation and Internet fragmentation. We model a two-sided market, where Content Providers (CPs) and consumers interact through Internet Service Providers (ISPs), and CPs sell consumers' attention to advertisers. Under Net Neutrality, a zero-price rule is enforced. In the Unregulated Regime, instead, ISPs make access to their subscribers conditional on payment of a termination fee. Multiple impressions of an ad on the same consumer are partially wasteful. Thus, equilibrium ad rates decrease when audiences overlap. We show that ISPs may strategically set termination fees to induce fragmentation. This takes place when advertising revenues are potentially large but strongly diminished by competition among CPs and when consumer demand is relatively inelastic with respect to content variety. We therefore identify an important link between termination fees, the online advertising market and Internet fragmentation. We extend the model to account for multi-homing consumers, vertically integrated ISPs, third-party advertising platforms and heterogeneous CPs.
Net Neutrality two-sided markets Internet advertising fragmentation