Because an increasing number of people spend time shopping online for everything from electronics to clothing, more and more businesses choose online advertising as one of their marketing strategies. However, while the benefits of advertising online include the potential to reach a large market and the ability to measure results, online advertising also presents lots of disadvantages or even harmful impacts. I believe that the current model of online advertising is dangerous for our society. If I need to rate the level of danger on a scale of 1-5 (where 5 is highly dangerous and 1 is not dangerous at all), I would like to say 4, which is very dangerous.
According to the article “ The end of privacy” by Kenneth Taylor, the author states that because most people are mostly blind to the effects of framing on their behavior, we are often easy to manipulate by those who have mastered the art of effective framing. This is precisely why truth in advertising is an important moral imperative. But the author also points out that there is little to no truth in advertising.
In another article, “ The Murky Ethics of Data Gathering in a Post-Cambridge Analytica World”, the author takes the Cambridge Analytica scandal as an example to show how the online advertising hurt the privacy of the platform’s users. The author argues that “Social networks and other advertising platforms may set up various processes that notionally screen out data aggregators or manipulative advertisers, but as long as these companies run on advertising revenue, they have little incentive to promote transparency among data brokers and advertisers,” The author points out that Marketers on Facebook could traditionally leverage three types of data streams for ad targeting, one of those types is that advertisers collected themselves and uploaded, such as names and e-mail addresses of the customers who visit their stores. Thus, online advertisers could collect or even resell the customers’ personal information but their customers might not even notice that.
When online advertising works well, it works for the advertiser and the consumer. There is some useful code of ethics for digital marketers.
- Focus on the truth
Ethical online advertising should focus on the truth. The online advertisement must be truthful and not misleading. When dealing with advertisements for food, drugs, alcohol, and tobacco, in addition to children’s products, the advertiser should pay special attention.
- Provide substantiated evidence
When dealing with health products, over-the-counter medications, and dietary supplements, it’s especially important to provide solid backing for any claims or testimonials.
- Disclose All Affiliations
Based on the FTC regulation, any disclosures be made in online ads as close to the claim as possible. For example, if an online ad makes a claim that can be misleading or deceptive, then certain qualifying information must be disclosed — otherwise, the ad is no longer considered truthful. The FTC insists that any affiliations within the ad or promotion be clear and conspicuous.
- Avoid Costly Penalties
If an organization is producing ads that do not follow the truth-in-advertising laws, the FTC will prosecute them, resulting in large fines and poor publicity for the company in question. An advertising agency based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, was required to pay a fine of $2 million for issuing advertisements for weight-loss supplements with no substantiated evidence that they actually worked.
- Never compromise consumers’ personal privacy
Advertisers should never compromise consumers’ personal privacy in marketing communications, and their choices as to whether to participate in providing their information should be transparent and easily made. As marketers develop increasingly advanced means of online behavioral targeting, consumers worry about their privacy. In response to consumer concerns and government warnings, marketing and media trade associations are launching an online self-regulatory initiative to give consumers greater control over the collection and use of online viewing data.
- Take time to discuss ethical concerns
Advertisers and their agencies, and online and offline media should discuss privately potential ethical concerns, and members of the team creating ads should be given permission to express internally their ethical concerns. Taking the time to discuss and resolve ethical dilemmas is essential to practicing the highest ethical standards. The industry must maintain an open environment where professionals feel free to express their opinions, both positive and negative. The main consideration behind all advertising should be what is best for the consumer, and this will lead to the best plan of action.
- Follow the local advertising law
Advertisers should follow federal, state and local advertising laws, and cooperate with industry self-regulatory programs for the resolution of advertising practices. The Federal Trade Commission, Better Business Bureau, and Food & Drug Administration are just a few of the regulatory bodies that advertisers can look to for guidance regarding ethical practices.
- Full disclosure and transparency
The popularity of social media and word-of-mouth marketing raises questions about the credibility of content. Advertisers must be transparent about whether bloggers are expressing their own opinions or are being compensated by a brand.
Digital marketers should follow these codes of ethics when advertising to their consumers that they can earn more money and also maintain a better online environment for customer.
- Gigante, M. D. (2018, October 11). Eight Principles Of Advertising Ethics. Retrieved from https://www.mdgadvertising.com/marketing-insights/eight-principles-of-advertising-ethics/.
- Friedberg, C. K. (2018, August 21). Code of Ethics for European Advertisements. Retrieved from https://bizfluent.com/12087777/code-of-ethics-for-european-advertisements.
- The End of Privacy. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.philosophytalk.org/blog/end-privacy.
- Brookins, M. (2019, February 5). Disadvantages of Online Advertising Options. Retrieved from https://smallbusiness.chron.com/disadvantages-online-advertising-options-10212.html.