Ethical advertising – can advertisers be trusted to self-regulate?


Have you ever wondered how ethical advertisers can be? Megan examines how advertisers can be trusted to self-regulate to protect consumers.

When working in advertising, I am often asked how ethical our industry is. My friends and family seem to hate ads and frequently share their conspiracy theories with me about how Google, Amazon, and social media use their data to serve ads to them and distract from big business issues in society.

In reality, the way advertisers and media owners use data is pretty straightforward. That said, there are only a limited number of times I can point out that their data is indeed anonymous! However, he are questions about ethics in advertising and how we as marketers should use our powers for good and not for evil.

Many of them boil down to the question of free will and whether we as humans are competent enough to say no to advertising campaigns.

Self-regulation – Google takes on financial fraudsters

In a move that many would say belated, Google announced that starting August 30, any company promoting financial services products must be registered with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). The move comes after the FCA issued 1,200 consumer warnings in 2020 about bogus businesses advertising online.

Although the Advertising Standards Authority already enforces rules allowing advertisers to accurately represent their products, the app may arrive too late for those who fall victim to these scams. With an estimated total of £ 1.2bn stolen through online frauds and scams last year, actions like Google’s are protecting vulnerable people from victims of fraudsters operating under companies se – saying legitimate.

Of course, bogus companies will not advertise through advertising agencies. While we, as advertisers, cannot prevent scams from happening, as professionals in the industry, it is is it’s up to us to support action like Google’s and help pressure governments to adopt similar processes in law. We can also help educate our peers on how advertising works, share our knowledge of the processes behind online advertising, and provide visibility into how easy it is to set up an advertising campaign.

By self-regulating as an industry (in a place where, arguably, governments could have intervened), we also lead to direct savings for governments and private banks. With fewer claims from victims of scams, Google has ensured that not only are internet users safer online, but the impact of internet fraud on the economy within the meaning wide is minimized.

Against opinion – The ban on advertising junk food

When I think about my prefer advertisements, they are almost universally focused on junk food brands. From hyperactive, Americanized ads promoting sugary candies (between Super Soaker water guns) that I drank while watching CITV as a kid, to the creative ideas Cadbury’s came up with to promote Dairy Milk, it’s those ads. that I always fall back when someone asks me what my favorite ads are.

In an effort to tackle obesity, the government is set to “impose a UK-wide ban before 9pm on TV ads for foods high in sugar, salt and fat.” When it comes to the world of advertising, junk food just won’t exist until the turn, and it doesn’t end with TV. A 24-hour ban will come into play for all online advertising, meaning paid, social, or even sponsored ads on Amazon will no longer be an option for ‘unhealthy’ food retailers (with the exception of businesses under. 250 employees). The only way to advertise online will be organic.

The idea, in large part with the total ban on cigarette advertising that was enacted in 2002, is that by limiting the visibility of unhealthy foods, demand will decrease and children across the country will be healthier and less. likely to be obese. But, with huge aisles in supermarkets dedicated to the same items the government sees fit to ban advertising, what effect will that really have? As long as the bright colors of the chips, cookies and candy shelves exist, children and their parents will continue to buy unhealthy foods. So where will the effect of this ban really be felt?

The Guardian estimates that £ 400million is spent annually in the UK to advertise junk food online. This ban translates into lost revenue for advertising agencies and could lead to layoffs in the marketing and food and beverage industries. In addition, the ban could cost broadcasters £ 200million in lost advertising revenue, meaning lost revenue for the arts industry at a time when it is desperately in need of funding.

In this case, despite lobbying from institutions such as the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising, the concerns of the advertising industry were dismissed. While the industry shows that we can and operate ethically (through guidelines and rules on the individual platforms and independent organizations set up to regulate the industry), our concerns are only heard when they are aligned with the opinions of the general public or the government.

Influencing the Law – Bringing in Advertising Experts

Above, I have discussed two different scenarios when it comes to the ethics surrounding advertising. In one scenario, the industry is ahead of government legislation, regulating itself to limit those who misuse the powers of advertising. On the other hand, we have a scenario where the government enacts a law to prevent the advertising of products it deems unhealthy, against pressure from the industry.

As advertisers, we have to be trustworthy to do the right thing. We have proven, as an industry, that we can regulate ourselves and protect our audiences from those who use advertising for unsavory purposes, so we have earned the right to be trusted to make decisions that work for them. our users. As a marketer, writing a blog post on a digital performance agency site, you might see me as a little biased, but, when we seek advice from experts in other areas of our life, maybe we should do the same for advertisers?

Are you looking for someone to chat with about all things advertising? Contact our marketing experts – we’ll talk about the ads all day if you allow us!

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