Tag Archives: ethics

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Is the Grocery Store a Place for Telling a Story?

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As you may have heard, a new cashier-less Sam’s Club, Sam’s Club Now, is opening in Dallas soon.  While it has many interesting designs, a striking one is the idea of story advertising while the customer is in the aisle.

The question is will it increase sales?  The cashier-less system is still in testing stages, so it may change as more data is collected.  It could increase sales in Sam’s Club Now because customers are expected to be viewing their phones for a map to products, shopping lists, and scanning desired items.  The supposed story ad could potentially be too intrusive. Story ads will likely not be videos with sound, so that leaves videos (or maybe GIFs) with text -which implies shorter stories.  Shorter stories require marketers to only include the essentials of the message.  Many writers could write such stories, the problem is will they work.  Can a brand tell how a product was sourced, its features, and a compelling narrative that drives buys in a few seconds?


It is possible, though it will likely rely on emotional appeals and attempts to drive consumers to impulse buy.  With the kinds of data being collected the ads may be able to be personalized to better appeal to specific consumers’ emotional weak points.

There is a question this raises.  Where does this side of marketing become unethical?  The more data available on a customer the easier the manipulation.  Marketing’s intent is to some extent customer manipulation, but too much information can show a customer’s psychological weak points that when pushed make driving consumer action reflexive to the consumer.  We are not at this level yet, but it is a possibility in a short while -especially in countries with less regulated data collection and aggregation, such as China.  It is widely accepted that this is unethical because it inherently removes consumers’ choice.  But how close can marketers get to this line?  Marketers will have to use their judgements, as they already do, when making content and the corporate structure must have a system in place to check and balance the content creators’ campaigns close to the unethical line.  Thankfully systems are in place at most marketing firms to address this very issue, but we must remain vigilant to ensure consumers’ choice is not infringed.

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Ethics in the Midst of a Gold Mine

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As we all know, Mark Zuckerburg had the idea of a lifetime that completely revolutionized the internet. Facebook now has over 1.5 billion users – that’s more populous than any of the seven continents. We might not realize it now, but Facebook is way more than just a website. This site has impacted our history and will be in textbooks for years to come. Our generation is marked with a tech boom and Facebook is a highlight of the story – for the first time in human history we are more connected than ever before.

Most of us use Facebook every day, and clicking on the little blue logo has become second nature when we are caught in a moment of boredom. While the amount of time everyone spends on it differs, I think we can all agree that our society spends a significant portion of our time on the platform. Brands have caught on to the significance of the social platform in their marketing plans. Whether you are a large corporation or a family owned business, the brand image your company portrays on the site is important to consumers.

While the original purpose of Facebook was to connect friends to one another, the money and success of the platform has been found in the realization that Facebook Ads have the unique power to connect brands to an incredibly specific target audience. Companies can now pay Facebook to show their advertisements to the exact type of consumer they are trying to find – whether based on age, location, gender, etc. This powerful tool allows marketers from all types of companies to be more efficient and spend their budgets more wisely. Not to mention they now have concrete, traceable evidence of how their promotions and advertisements generate leads.

So it’s 2018 and Facebook has been around awhile. We now realize the power and significance this platform plays in our day-to-day interactions with friends and with our interactions with the brands we love. I’d argue Mark Zuckerburg has a lot more power than the common consumer realizes, with a large portion of the world being active users of his site.

We have never really had anything like this before in our history, so naturally we aren’t quite sure the effects of this type of technology. The unknown of it all can be a bit daunting, but I think it’s really exciting and encouraging that the man behind the screen has made a vow to remember the importance of the people amidst all the profits. Zuckerburg’s statements this past week mentioned he wants to prioritize the legacy he is leaving for his child and the world his kid will grow up in. He intends to balance the amount of personal content and advertisements on Newsfeeds to create an experience that puts the consumer first – while still allows the digital marketing boom to flourish. Because at the end of the day, behind every IP address, piece of Big Data, and screen – there are people. So thanks, Mark, for setting a trend in the tech industry and making the statement that profits can be made and ethics can be prioritized.

To sum it all up – I think it’s crazy important that we as digital marketing professionals realize the unique privilege we have to impact the lives of consumers.





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