How Private Information Has Become Publicized:
The nature of the internet makes everything that individuals do online essentially part of a public record. Everything that we do is tracked and stored into an informational database (usually through cookies). This is dangerous, because individuals have become prone targets to corporate online marketing efforts, where these efforts usually involve using stored ‘consumer’ data to best appeal to individual consumers.
For instance, consider a scenario where I click on an ad on Instagram, now I have become a ‘lead’ and the company that put out the ad will most certainly target me further (through ads) now that they know I have an interest in their product.
Or, perhaps I clicked on a site and their landing page requests personal information like an email address or a phone number, now that site has my information. This is dangerous because some sites have been known to even sell this information.
Online advertisers primary goal is to create customers through conversions and customers need to feel safe in order to engage with a site.
This begs the question: How can online advertisers maintain a level of ethics in their targeted marketing tactics?
A (basic) Moral Code For Online Marketers:
Do not sell your customers personal information– ever.
For sites like Facebook, if you are tracking customers information, tell them what you are doing in your terms and conditions agreement and not in the fine print section.
Instill heavy measures of protection to safeguard any consumer information your site may hold to avoid it falling into the wrong hands (i. e., hackers and criminals).
Do not exaggerate product claims in an attempt to stand out online, usually it is pretty obvious and overall unattractive to the customer.
Maintain a moral high ground and lead by example, your customers will be more trusting of your site if they feel safe using it.
How Dangerous Really Are Online Marketing Tactics?
Online advertising has created a dangerous environment for the consumer, from a scale of 1-10 I would say this danger is at a 10 because of our heavy reliance on technology, privatized information has become part of the public ‘technical’ sphere. What used to be done in person or over the phone has now all become integrated online which calls for a change in ethical practices. This is due to the ability to trace and track every action on a computer or site. In order to foster a positive and professional online consumer environment we must adapt and make changes in our ethical framework that underlies online marketing efforts.
Why Online Marketers Need To Change:
This is important for marketers to consider because consumers are becoming more savvy, especially in younger markets (which many online marketers are trying to tap into). Often, buyers are aware of aggressive advertising efforts and are turned off by them. If you want to appeal to the consumer base you need to be their friend not foe. Marketers create relationships with consumers, whether it be through email campaigns, loyalty clubs or even reviews put out by customers. Maintaining these relationships is critical in maintaining clientele and customers so you should seriously consider: are we ethical to our customers in our online marketing efforts? If not, consider implementing my suggested moral code for marketers as a starting step to creating a better business model.