Marketing Ethics




Accordingto the American Marketers Association (2014), marketingprofessionals, academics and students alike should stand committedtowards the promotion of the highest possible professional ethicalvalues and norms. Norms relate to conventional standards of conduct,which the society and professional institutions are expected toadhere to. Values define the society’s perception of what ismorally proper, significant and desirable. Marketers should recognizethat in serving organizations, they are by extension acting asstewards of the society by facilitating the creation of transactionsexecuted to offer a greater good to the American economy(Scott, 2013).In this age of technology, marketing has embraced the internetperfectly, however there are ethical issues arising with respect touser privacy as will be discussed in this paper.

Well,marketing has provided some moments that have inspired even the mostcelebrated in the society. It is at such moments and spaces thatmarketing provides that people seek to cultivate a self-affirmationaspect or an element that promote inspiration. The generation Y hasbecome obsessed with social sites especially in connecting withfriends and strangers, and as most studies show, they have the optionto use such sites for self-actualization and power rather thanconnecting to discuss non-issues. For the sharp-minded and thewell-inspired individuals, it is the high time they see the need fora mechanism that promotes their talents and self-affirmation.

Takefor instance a situation where you enter a store in your neighborhoodmall then upon completing purchasing requirements one of the store’sstaff follows you with a pen and note pad in hand then notes downwhich next store you visit. The store staff may have noted downwhether or not you went to a rival store and went to the magazinesstand. Upon leaving the next store, you notice that the staffs fromthe first store and the second are following you with both pen andpaper in hand similarly to take notes of your behavior as a customer.

Differentto what erstwhile cohorts could have deliberated as the model, theCompeers Y popularly known as the Generation Y has entirelyincorporated the Internet as a niche factor in positioning themselvesin today’s working world. Note that all freshmen belongs to thisage group and they have comfortably perceived that they can attainmore through a robust and dissimilar market incidence made accessibleby the Internet especially social sites such as, Facebook, Twitter,and personal blogs, YouTube, among others.

Anefficacious specialized career is secured on how well oneinterconnects his or her manifestation thus, auspicious, intelligentand earnest business-minded freshmen will find it within their meansto cultivate a web presence that encompass marketing. Marketing willprovide the much needed power and authority for freshmen to cultivatea good rapport and a successful career pegged on capacity andcommunication systems.

Thisis not something that may commonly occur in the real world but in thedigital world, this is a common practice among most marketing firms(Schlegelmilch, &amp Öberseder, 2010).After leaving an online store, such tracking is not only effortlessbut is quite common. However, noticing such activities on theInternet is quite hard as online shoppers are not even aware of suchpractices. This practice has continued to evolve and marketers arenow having ethical consideration as to whether this is acceptable ofnot.

TheCEO of an organization dealing with digital marketing in Portland,Oregon, Mr. Alex Yoder provides that, “Firms have the right toclosely monitor visitors on their websites, in a manner similar tothat common with sales clerks at your local convenience store.” Headds that, “After a visitor has left a firm’s website and thefirm continues to observe and record consumer shopping behaviors,then I have the feeling that that is an improper thing to do.”

“Monitoringconsumer trends over the Internet is in my view a violation of bothtrust as well as privacy,” concludes Mr. Yoder. Webtrends is asuccessful online marketing organization offering a wide range ofservices from web analytics to web optimization. Firms solicitingservices from Webtrends include Urban Outfitters, BMW, Coca Cola,Microsoft and Barclays just to name a few.

Inspite of concerns by ethical business leaders such as Webtrends’Mr. Yoder, many marketing firms are known to monitor customerbehavior across multiple websites. Techniques used includefingerprinting which includes viewing a web browsers distinctcharacteristics and the use of cookies(Tanner,2013).The techniques and processes employed by these online marketingcompanies’ remains a mystery to many internet users and as such,the activities of these firms remain unknown. For instance, socialsharing widgets offered by an online marketing organization referredto as AddThis, offers visitors an avenue through which they caneasily share content from social media platforms such as Twitter andFacebook.

AddThishas the necessary capabilities to monitor users as they visit throughdifferent websites via the company’s widget. By third quarter of2013, the AddThis widget roved on over 13 million internet sites fromthe huge retail stores such as Home Depot to the US government’sdepartment of Interior(Tanner,2013).AddThis registered nearly 1.4 billion monthly users at the end of2013.

AddThisdoes not track internet users via personal information butconcentrates on consumer and internet user trends(Kotler &amp Armstrong, 2013).It is thus possible for an online firm like AddThis to be able toprovide a vast array of information relative to online user trends.For instance, the company can offer information the sequence throughwhich online users visit the ESPN website. AddThis provides thatinternet users tend to visit other websites sequentially prior topurchasing tickets for particular NBA games(Tanner,2013).As AddThis’ chief marketing officer provides, “We have the webtools and more so the information that does not relate to theindividual online user but is concerned with macro-level trendsrelative to very wide audiences who share common attributes.” Headds that, “our online tools are popular with many of the internetusers and thus we have the information regarding to vast amounts ofdata on online user trends which very few online companies can beable to offer.”

Anonline company that rivals AddThis is Double Click, a Googleaffiliate(Tanner,2013).As Mr. Allan provides, “many internet sites use multiple trackers.”He is also has a view that such companies enhance the online user’spersonal experience and more so serves to pay for the operationswhich enable internet users to access free services offered over theinternet.

AddThis’Mr.Allen provides that the consumers are now noticing successfulpersonalization outcomes of numerous individual online companies suchas Facebook and Amazon. It is through advertising that many onlinecompanies have been able to realize the fruition of having aninternet experience at no added costs.

However,Mr. Allan is well aware of the ethical concerns arising because ofmarketing techniques adopted by online marketing companies(Galician, 2013).He quips, “It is vital to have and promote informed web experienceswhich are not only relevant but take into consideration the sensitiveissues of user privacy.” Considering the checks and balances inplace and the efforts employed by many online firms with respect itis prudent for me to state that the industry is well on track withrespect.”

AsMR. Allan provides, “Internet users have the option of voluntarilypulling out of AddThis data collecting techniques.” It is howeverimportant to note that most online visitors do not even know thatonline data collection takes place through companies such as AddThisand Double Click. Mr. Allan also provides that, “Our Companystrongly adheres to the wishes of our clients and as such, whereinternet browsers have the do not track function activated, we do nottrack user behaviors and trends.” He provides a rough estimate thatsuch browsers account to 25% of all active browsers.

Webtrends’Mr. Yoder however suggests that, “It may come to many as a point ofgreat concern that online marketing firms may continue to grab asmuch data as possible and most probably employ unethical practices inan effort to achieve this end. The harsh reality may even be to theeffect that legislation has to be implemented effectively towardsensuring that online marketers to do break the set boundaries.” Itis common to find that most of these online marketing firms do nothave any limits as to how they collect visitor data across a vastarray of websites with the sole information of selling such data andthis may probably not stop in the near future.” As Mr. Yoderprovides, “the application of third party cookies reflects a majorflaw existing on the internet.”

Mr.Yoder perceives that in the near future that may arise a standard,which will require such firms to voluntarily identify themselves andmore so approve the application of their personal information foronline marketing strategies. This is already the case with onlinecompanies such as Google as well as Facebook whereby users by aspectof registering as users expressly allow personal information to beapplied for marketing purposes in return for free services.

Mr.Yoder strongly provides that, “It’s my personal conviction thatsuch an approach will offer sound and ethical avenues for use infuture advertising trends but most brands as well as agencies mayadapt to such a dynamic much more slowly. As such, innovativecompanies will reap numerous benefits from adhering to ethicalmarketing techniques as online users will expect something in returnfor the data to be applied by brands for marketing purposes.” Thismay not be necessarily something of monetary value to the consumerbut something that is life enhancing in the eyes of the consumer(Scott, 2013).They may in fact be presented with a situation where online usersthrough powerful avenues such as social media platforms and massdistribution shut down brands form the online market. These avenuesmay ignore such brands or even recommend competitors instead.”


Marketingis a wide discipline transcending both the real and the virtualworld. It involves e-commerce, marketing research, online selling,advertising as well as direct marketing. Businesses require marketersto create awareness and attract consumers to the benefits of buyinggoods and services a company avails to the market through itsbusiness operations. Marketers are therefore very important indetermining whether an organization is successful both in the shortterm and in the long term.

Forevery business, ethical standards are of great significance to thefuture growth. Research has shown that consumers are now tendingtowards embracing goods and services offered by companies known toadhere to prescribed ethical standards(Vitell, Nwachukwu &amp Barnes, 2013).As an aspiring marketing student, I have come to catch an insightfulglimpse as to what marketing ethics entails more so with respect toonline marketing. The internet is evidently the preferred mode offuture marketing techniques and strategies. Writing this project hasenabled me gather information on how marketing trends over theinternet are bound to change in future. As such, this will enable meto further research on the most desirable marketing trends that maycome into fruition in future. These will not only aid me in becominga very successful marketing student but also provide the vitalknowledge necessary as dictated by the job market.

Whileworking in this project, I have come to comprehensively understandthat good ethical standards translate to a business that reflectsadmirable attributes which consumers are positively attracted to. Onthe same note, I have come to understand that through adherence topositive ethical value and norms in the digital world, a company’sbusiness operations are able to sustain and realize consumer growthas well as loyalty. I have come to understand that marketers ought topractice honesty, responsibility, citizenship, fairness, transparencyand respect.

Inmany instance, online marketers have operated in the dark whereby theconsumers have failed to have any knowledge that their personalinformation may be in use for purposes they are not privy to. This isunethical and unethical practices translate to tumultuous experiencesin future. I have come to understand that it is best to incorporatesound ethical values when employing online marketing techniques andstrategies.

Assuch, in my studies, I will employ ethical values and norms in mystudies and this will in no doubt present positive future outcomes inboth my personal and professional life. Integrity is one of the mostsignificant in portraying a good public of self(Aguirre, 2013).I have learnt this from the research I have conducted for mymarketing ethics paper. For instance, marketers are in essence acompany’s brand managers. They are indeed the link between thecompany and consumer. Marketers are in a position to cultivate anorganizational culture that the consumer desires to be associatedwith, especially where online systems occur. In the same perspective,consumers see the marketer as a reflection of the company or brand.Thus, if a marketer or marketers of a given brand or company exhibitunethical tendencies, the consumers undoubtedly relate with such acompany or brand negatively. As an aspiring marketing student andfuture professional marketer, I am obligated to doing only that whichreflects a person of integrity.


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