A Digital Marketer’s Guide to Humanity!
Rating the level of danger on a scale of 1-5 where 5 is highly dangerous and 1 is not dangerous at all, I think the level of danger for the current model of online advertising is a 4. I think online advertising clutters our minds with so many images and messages, it’s pervasive, intrusive, and invasive. Online ads are considered to be so annoying that people dole out massive amounts of money to sites such as YouTube, Hulu, Kindle, Spotify, etc. just to avoid them.
According to this article, “People are “objectified” by the advertising industry, they are wanted for one thing: to buy the product or service. Everything that makes us human is reduced to that of a consumer.” The negative effects of online advertising on society include but is not limited to:
- Data exploitation
- Privacy breach
- Enforcing negative stereotypes
- Creating a sense of discontentment
- Inspiring stress in our relationships with ourselves and others
- Influencing us to spend money we do not have
- Persuading us to purchase things we do not need
- Exploiting our vulnerabilities
Living in a post-Cambridge Analytica world, consumers are filled with great distrust for tech companies and the marketers that advertise on their sites and/or apps. And without transparency and trust, it is near-impossible to build lasting brand-loyalty. According to this New York Times article, “All over the internet, general fakery abounds — there are millions of fake followers on Twitter and Facebook, fake rehab centers being touted on Google and even fake review sites to sell you a mattress.” It is for these reasons and more that I have come up with the DIGITAL MARKETER CODE OF ETHICS (also known as the DM CODE). As Marketers, we must, like doctors, DO NO HARM by avoiding harmful actions and obeying the laws and regulations that guide our profession and businesses. We must also strive to regain the trust of consumers by religiously following the DM CODE:
HONESTY – to be forthright in dealings with customers and stakeholders. To this end, we will:
- Strive to be truthful in all situations and at all times.
- Offer products of value that do what we claim in our communications.
- Stand behind our products if they fail to deliver their claimed benefits.
- Honor our explicit and implicit commitments and promises.
TRANSPARENCY – to create a spirit of openness in marketing operations. To this end, we will:
- Strive to communicate clearly with all constituencies.
- Accept constructive criticism from customers and other stakeholders.
- Explain and take appropriate action regarding significant product or service risks, component substitutions or other foreseeable eventualities that could affect customers or their perception of the purchase decision.
- Disclose list prices and terms of financing as well as available price deals and adjustments.
FAIRNESS – to balance justly the needs of the buyer with the interests of the seller. To this end, we will:
- Represent products in a clear way in selling, advertising and other forms of communication; this includes the avoidance of false, misleading and deceptive promotion.
- Reject manipulations and sales tactics that harm customer trust.
- Refuse to engage in price fixing, predatory pricing, price gouging or “bait-and-switch” tactics.
- Avoid knowing participation in conflicts of interest.
- Seek to protect the private information of customers, employees and partners.
RESPECT – to acknowledge the basic human dignity of all stakeholders. To this end, we will:
- Value individual differences and avoid stereotyping customers or depicting demographic groups (e.g., gender, race, sexual orientation) in a negative or dehumanizing way.
- Listen to the needs of customers and make all reasonable efforts to monitor and improve their satisfaction on an ongoing basis.
- Make every effort to understand and respectfully treat buyers, suppliers, intermediaries and distributors from all cultures.
- Acknowledge the contributions of others, such as consultants, employees and coworkers, to marketing endeavors.
- Treat everyone, including our competitors, as we would wish to be treated.
RESPONSIBILITY – to accept the consequences of our marketing decisions and strategies. To this end, we will:
- Strive to serve the needs of customers.
- Avoid using coercion with all stakeholders.
- Acknowledge the social obligations to stakeholders that come with increased marketing and economic power.
- Recognize our special commitments to vulnerable market segments such as children, seniors, the economically impoverished, market illiterates and others who may be substantially disadvantaged.
- Consider environmental stewardship in our decision-making.
CITIZENSHIP – to fulfill the economic, legal, philanthropic and societal responsibilities that serve stakeholders. To this end, we will:
- Strive to protect the ecological environment in the execution of marketing campaigns.
- Give back to the community through volunteerism and charitable donations.
- Contribute to the overall betterment of marketing and its reputation.
- Urge supply chain members to ensure that trade is fair for all participants, including producers in developing countries.
In conclusion, I believe that unethical online advertising threatens the quality of all communication and consequently the well‐being of individuals and the society in which we live.
Tackling the Internet’s Central Villain: The Advertising Business. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/31/technology/internet-advertising-business.html
Facebook faces a reputational meltdown. https://www.economist.com/leaders/2018/03/22/facebook-faces-a-reputational-meltdown
Codes of Conduct | AMA Statement of Ethics. https://www.ama.org/codes-of-conduct/
Statement of Ethics. http://www.amagvsu.com/statement-of-ethics.html
The Murky Ethics of Data Gathering in a Post-Cambridge Analytica World. https://www.ama.org/marketing-news/the-murky-ethics-of-data-gathering-in-a-post-cambridge-analytica-world/
The Negative Influence of Advertising. https://bizfluent.com/info-8196648-negative-influence-advertising.html