Did you hear the news? We’ve reached the end of the Internet.
Well, to be fair, we’ve reached the end of the old experimental Internet, which just so happens to be the same one that spawned not only enough AOL Online CD-ROMs to circle the Earth, but Amazon, Facebook, and nearly every other innovation in recent memory.
Don’t panic! People significantly smarter than you or me knew this would happen and they have been on the case for a long time. To ensure that a new and improved Internet is ready to take its place, engineers have been working on a brand new addressing system that will maintain the Internet’s growth for generations to come. That solution is IPv6, or Internet Protocol version 6. It’s real, it’s here, and public relations and marketing professionals need to be prepared.
Here’s some basic math that explains why we need to pay attention.
The current addressing system that supports the Internet is called IPv4. IPv4 is a 32-bit addressing system that limits the total 4.3 billion possible addresses. Believe it or not, we are at the end of that pool of addresses. It’s replacement, IPv6, has significantly more space because it’s built on a 128-bit system. How much? In the neighborhood of 7.9×1028 more available addresses than IPv4.
Why should PR professionals care? One word: data.
Good analytical data tests assumptions and proves the success of online advertising and engagement plans. If we target 18 to 30-year-old coffee drinkers in Nashville, we want our data to reflect that we are actually reaching 18 to 30-year-old coffee drinkers in Nashville. Our clients depend on this data to make important planning decisions (including PR budgets).
We all know the data supporting the growth of mobile computing and we recognize that most of those coffee drinkers are browsing websites and social ads on mobile devices as they sip their coffee. Here’s the problem for marketers and PR folks: IPv4 isn’t compatible with IPv6. That means measuring accurate online engagement just got more complicated.
The largest growth in IPv6 has been in the mobile market. This is the result of device makers and wireless providers future-proofing their products and networks by building IPv6 into phones and tablets natively.
However, if that mobile traffic is trying to connecting to your client’s older IPv4 based website, you won’t always be able to get accurate data about the user on the other end of the connection. Why does this happen? Before IPv6 traffic is routed to an IPv4 site, it has to be sent to a gateway where it is translated to v4. If that user in Nashville connects to a gateway in North Carolina, your geo-targeting data isn’t going to be trustworthy.
That’s the problem in a nutshell and here is the solution. PR professionals are always looking to add value to their client relationships and the IPv6 issue is a perfect opportunity to help guide your clients through important IT management challenges. Whether that comes in the form of new equipment purchases or a website redesign, you now know that IPv6 has to be front and center of any discussion you have with your client’s leadership team.
To make things easier, because not all IT vendors or even hosting companies understand IPv6, the American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN) is providing resources on IPv6 including an easy to follow step-by-step graphic on how your organization and your clients can Get6. Pieces of the graphic are pictured in this post. The full infographic can be found at http://teamarin.net/get6/ipv6-facts/.
IPv6 will create new challenges and opportunities for PR professionals, but one thing will help keep our industry a step ahead: information. Visit http://teamarin.net/get6 for up-to-date information on IPv4 depletion and adoption rates for IPv6.