Let’s Talk Ethics and Privacy for Marketers

From the moment we wake up in the morning to the moments before we go to bed we have been exposed to thousands and thousands of advertainments through our browsers and social media platforms. Whether we are killing time waiting for our school classes, on a break at work, standing in line at the store, online shopping and or simply using it to pass time. More than ever social media has become a daily use and need for many and it is only on the rise.

“In 2017, less than 2.5 billion people were on social media worldwide. This year 2019, that number is expected to top 2.77 billion. By 2021, more than 3 billion people are expected to be on social media nearly 40 percent of the entire world’s projected population in that year”(Average, 2019).

With this understanding of how many people use social media platforms and browsers on a daily basis. At times these sponsored target ads can be useful as they to show us new products and services and the benefits they may bring. The goal of all advertising displays ad included, is to influence the ad recipient to make a purchase, either immediately or in the future. (Larson, 2018).

However, there can be a negative side of all these sponsored advertisements Have you ever thought about how you were scrolling through your feed clicking and liking posts and then all of sudden you notice a sponsored/recommended ad appeared. How did the browser know what I was interested in? How did they know to recommend a product and or service? You think about how it’s weird and scary that they have monitored my searches and sponsored and target ads towards you.

The large question that comes into play is it ethical to be tracking user’s information and obtaining information about them? Does this invade personal privacy too much? What do we do with this information? This situation also can be referred to all a “crisis of trust,” namely, a loss of faith in institutions ranging from business to government to nongovernmental organizations. A major contributor, they believe, is the lack of objective facts and rational discourse in social media” (AMA, 2018).

Nowadays, the issue of privacy is something that we must be aware of as Marketers. As online advertisers are faced with are they crossing the fine line between getting to better understand consumers or are we being too invasive of consumers’ privacy. I would rank the current model of online advertising is dangerous for society a 3 on a 1 -5 scale being not dangerous at all. I do think that digital privacy and security is something to be concerned about in general but, it’s not a serious threat yet. In general, it’s about being aware of the government, hackers, online marketing taking your information and or watching your movements. It’s extremely important to understand and know how to protect yourself.

Code of Ethics for Digital Marketers

  1. Act Ethically: Act ethically and avoid illegal active and unethical activities with consumer’s data and privacy invasion. Adhering to privacy rules and regulations can help you establish trust within consumers and help establish a good brand reputation. Acting unethically can damage brand reputation significantly and most importantly dis own trust with the consumer.

  2. Be Transparent: Let the consumer know what products and services you are promoting. Provide them with accurate information and never exaggerate the product/services features and benefits as it can lead to false expectations of the product and service and lead to a negative attitude towards the company.

  3. Avoid Biases: It’s best to stay away from any controversial topics that can be considered controversial and stir up a debate such as politic, religion, cultural biases. Stay away from anything that can negatively harm your brand’s reputation. As consumers will always remember when you make a mistake and it’s very difficult to change customer perceptions after it happens.

  4. Know Your Audience: Before promoting and advertising anything always have a clear understanding of who your audience is. Look at their psychographics and demographic features and know their likes and interests, and choices.

  5. Be Consistent: Be consistent with posting quality advertisements, using quality images, and most importantly posting quality content. Use a consistent theme, fonts, colors, etc. that way consumers will be able to recognize your brand’s identity.

  6. Think Before You Post: This step is crucial as many consumers can interpret information differently. Always proofread, edit refine content before posting for prospects to ensure that content if factual and does not lead to controversy and negative perceptions of the brand.

  7. Be Clear: Let the target customer known that you are going to be using their data with a disclaimer and or written in the fine print. Be clear that you are collecting data for research, why you are collecting it, and indicate how you can be reached if they concerns or questions.

  8. Respond to Consumer Concerns: Always clear up safety concerns that prospects and or current customers have with the product and service. Take the time to investigate and respond efficiently as it can clear up any misunderstandings and help protect the consumers.


Akbar, Tahir AkbarTahir, and Israyelle. “7 Fundamental Ethics of Social Media Marketing.” Business 2 Community, https://www.business2community.com/social-media/7-fundamental-ethics-social-media-marketing-01571504.

Boote, Tim. “What Have Ethics Got to Do with Digital Marketing?” Digital Marketing Magazine, 17 Jan. 2017, digitalmarketingmagazine.co.uk/digital-marketing-features/what-have-ethics-got-to-do-with-digital-marketing/4031.
“Chapter 7: Display Advertising.” Digital Marketing Essentials, by Jeff Larson and Stuart Draper, Publishing by Edify, 2018.

AMA. “Can Marketers Repair Social Media’s Crisis of Trust?” Medium, AMA Marketing News, 4 May 2018, medium.com/ama-marketing-news/can-marketers-repair-social-medias-crisis-of-trust-6d7f3fb1f797.

“Average Time Spent Daily on Social Media (with 2019 Data).” BroadbandSearch.net, https://www.broadbandsearch.net/blog/average-daily-time-on-social-media.

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