Is Online Advertising Dangerous?

The Internet has become integrated into people’s everyday life for many years now and it only continues to grow. The internet can do so many things that benefit people it is one of the greatest inventions ever. However, is everything that happens on the web good? The answer to that question is no, not everything that happens is good and throughout this blog post that will be explained.

Advertisements may seem like nothing but an annoyance on your screen, but in fact they are strategically put there to subconsciously affect purchasing decisions. This is done through an algorithm that bases the ads being shown on previous searches, previous interactions with ads, types of websites visited, and other activity done online. This can be further explained through the platform YouTube. Have you ever watched a video on say cooking, and the next video was again on cooking? This is because YouTube takes that you watched a certain video and has an algorithm that puts a similar video in the watch next queue. It then remembers this and even if you go on YouTube a few days later, the first recommended videos may again be on cooking. Techno-sociologist Zeynep Tufekci has a great TedTalk that further explains this and the experiment she performed. In short, she was watching presidential videos on Donald Trump, as a result she got more and more white supremacy videos getting more and more extreme. Then when she searched on the democratic side, she got more and more extreme liberal videos because of the YouTube algorithm.

These algorithms that Google, YouTube, etc. use have now become a privacy issue. People are now wondering if they are getting too much information on people and are they using it the right way. Companies have been able to subconsciously have an affect on consumers purchasing decision with the information they gather and the ads they show on the web. This can be very dangerous and is something that consumers need to be aware of so they can get back their privacy and limit the power these companies have over them. From a scale of 1-5 on how dangerous the current model of online advertising is for society I would give it a 3. We are at a stage that the internet heavily influences everyday life. However, people still have the ability to make their decisions and not be as affected by these advertisements. Still there should be some changes in the privacy everyone has while searching the web. It is scary how much and how fast things are learned about an individual just through what they search on the web. At times it can be helpful to have ads targeted at things that interest an individual, but when a single search on diapers results in tons of baby ads, there needs to be a change.

Here are 8 code of ethics for digital marketers to follow:

Be honest: Be truthful with what you want and what you can do for the consumer. Don’t be shady and try to hide things to make yourself look better.

Know your target: Know the audience you are trying to reach. Do research on what their interests are, dislikes, demographics, etc. Learn about them so you can better connect to that audience.

Learn about the competition: Learn what others are doing and what has been effective for them. Get to know the competition and try to be better than them without slandering their business to try and get ahead.

Find the customers needs: Figure out what the customer really needs and find a solution for their problem. Don’t push products they don’t need just to try and get a sale. Know what they need and get them that instead.

It’s not all about money: Just because it may be a job doesn’t mean its all about the money. Make real connections with consumers and build lasting relationships that will make it easier to sell to them later on.

Have the best interest in the customer: Don’t be a selfish person. Your job is to supply a solution to needs consumers may have. It is about them and what they need. Be caring and put them first.

Build the brand: Raise awareness of the brand. Show that it is a trusted brand that customers can rely on. A brand that will be honest, have respect for the customer, and show integrity throughout the process. This will help build a strong relationship with customers.

Know the product: Know what you are selling. Have facts to back it up, but show that you actually care about what is being sold to the customer. If you show no interest in it, than neither will the customer.

Citations

“Ethical Guidelines – Guidelines for Ethical Business Practice.” Thedma.org, https://thedma.org/accountability/ethics-and-compliance/dma-ethical-guidelines/.

Tufekci, Zeynep. “We’re Building a Dystopia Just to Make People Click on Ads.” TED, https://www.ted.com/talks/zeynep_tufekci_we_re_building_a_dystopia_just_to_make_people_click_on_ads#t-20847.

“Why You’re Seeing an Ad – Ads Help.” Google, Google, https://support.google.com/ads/answer/1634057?hl=en.

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