For the past 30 years, the Internet’s infrastructure has been supported by Internet Protocol version 4 (IPv4). IPv4 has more than 4 billion addresses to number connected computers, but with the continued growth of the Internet and mobile devices, it won’t be long before the supply of IPv4 addresses is fully depleted. A few weeks ago the American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN), the organization that distributes IP addresses in the U.S., Canada and parts of the Caribbean, announced reaching the final stage of its IPv4 countdown plan, emphasizing the need to turn on the successor Internet protocol, IPv6.
IPv6 is the protocol created to account for the growing Internet. It contains approximately 340 undecillion addresses, providing ample space for all the new devices comprising the Internet of Things (IoT).
IMPACT ON PR
Yes, the Internet is running out of space, but IPv6 is far more than a technical issue. Without deploying IPv6 on their public websites, PR professionals could lose reliable Web metrics—the very tool that allows them to determine ROI and other critical business strategies.
PR success is often measured by click rates, social shares, page views and increased website traffic driven from media coverage and social content.
These Web metrics are based on the ability to associate the underlying network information where the end user is coming from. Websites that aren’t also connected via the newer IPv6 networking protocol cannot receive useful network-based location information from newer users connecting via IPv6.
Instead, current Internet websites (which have not been IPv6-enabled) receive incomplete or even incorrect location information for newer Web users. These increasingly inaccurate statistics produced by IPv4-only websites will make it difficult for PR professionals to highlight the success of their campaigns, strategically target the right customers or gather information for future efforts.
This not only results in a loss of insight, but also a potential loss of customers or clients.
THE WHOLE WEB
In a few years, newer Internet-enabled devices will only have the capacity to connect via IPv6, since this is the Internet address of the future. If IPv6-only users attempt to reach an IPv4-only website, they must go through a network gateway that causes those users to appear to be coming from the location of the gateway instead of the actual user location.
For example, you may register that several users in California clicked through to your new product’s microsite from a link you tweeted. You may then invest in a geo-targeting Twitter advertising campaign in California, as it appears that several current and potential customers are located there. However, in actuality, these users were located throughout the U.S. and your campaign investment produces little to no ROI.
Aside from the sunk cost of an ineffective PR campaign and potentially lost credibility, you’ve also missed out on an opportunity to accurately target potential new customers.
Enabling IPv6 on your website will allow PR pros to present accurate and dependable analytics-driven indicators of success, as long as companies properly provide their content via both IPv4 and IPv6.
It doesn’t matter the size of your company or which industry you represent—the ever-growing Internet has made it imperative for businesses to make sure their websites are ready for the new Internet protocol.
PR executives need to communicate to C-level managers why they need to adopt IPv6 and how inaccurate Web analytics ultimately affect their organization’s bottom line.
John Curran is president-CEO of ARIN. He can be reached at email@example.com.
This article originally appeared in the May 26, 2014 issue of PR News. Read more subscriber-only content by becoming a PR News subscriber today.