The paper "Direct Marketing and Consumer Privacy in the Online Environment: Effects on Australian Children" is an outstanding example of a marketing case study. The internet has significantly changed the way in which business is conducted today, particularly in relations to direct marketing. Over time, internet-based technologies have provided businesses with numerous tools and platforms where they can effectively target customers directly and promote their various products and services (Yannopoulos 1-2). Despite the various benefits associated with the use of internet in direct marketing, concerns have been raised regarding the ethical and privacy issues that emerge as a result of using the internet in direct marketing (Caudill & Murphy 7-8).
Some marketers consider the internet to be the “ Wild West” mainly due to the fact that it is a marketing platform that is difficult to regulate and vulnerable to unethical practices than any other media platform (Sheehan 156). According to a report by the Australian Law Reform Commission direct marketing approaches over the internet significantly violate the right to privacy especially for children and young people. Some marketing approaches often tend to collect confidential personal information through survey forms, contest and registration pages among many other means.
Despite these violations to an individual right to privacy, many argue that the Privacy Act of Australia provides insufficient privacy protection for children and young people in the online environment (ALRC 2014). Reports submitted by the Obesity Prevention Policy Coalition (OPPC) and Young Media Australia (YMA) showed that direct marketing through the internet violates the privacy of Australian children and young people privacy through the intrusion of personal information and space, direct interaction, and unsupervised access to children under 14 years.
Additionally, these reports showed that direct marketing through the internet unfairly manipulates children who do not fully understand the implications of disclosing personal information online (ALRC 2014). Similarly, Curtin (45-47) observes that some marketing sites often use sophisticated software to harvests and store the browsing history of their users. Afterwards, they use such information to target users by sending unsolicited advertisements about products and services through users’ emails so as to convince them to make purchases (Curtin 45-47). Moreover, many online marketers have been found to employ unfair and deceptive forms of marketing to vulnerable young computer users.
Sheehan (162-163) observes that some studies have found that one of the major ways through which online marketers manipulate and exhibit unethical marketing practices is by constantly targeting young children with advertisements about junk foods with high fat or sugar contents. As a result, many children are compelled to purchase unhealthy food products. This, in turn, has a negative impact on their health. Sheehan (162-163) further observes that studies show that, children’ s high exposure to junk food advertisements has increased by 85%.
Furthermore, many online marketers target unsuspecting children and young people in ads and promotions through online games, contest, and social networking opportunities so as to obtain their names, ages, e-mail addresses, postal addresses, phone numbers, family member demographics, and other personal information (Kitchen 78). In reference to the privacy violations that children and young people experience while using the internet, Woodard (55-56) notes that just like adults, children and young people have the right to privacy. Thus they should be protected against unethical and manipulative direct internet marketing.
However, Kitchen (80-81) argues that efforts to safeguard children and young people against unethical and manipulative practices in direct internet marketing have not been fruitful. Efforts to protect children and young people against unethical direct marketing practices have been thwarted by a number of factors. Firstly, there is a lack of clear understanding of the effects that unethical practices in direct internet marketing has on children and young people. Secondly, there are no uniform or clear regulations that guide, govern and regulate direct internet marketing practices particularly when it comes to the privacy of children and young people.
Moreover, there is a lack of clarity on the different online direct marketing ethical principles and approaches towards children and young people in general. Lastly, there is a significant gap in knowledge on the measures that parents, guardians and the government can take or implement in order to safeguard children and young people against unethical and manipulative practices in direct internet marketing (Jones & Moore 41-43; Kitchen 77-80).
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