Our work: the ethics of performance marketing

The way in which we find and connect with new customers and clients here at Hattusia is a near constant source of discussion. Modern day marketing relies on many practices and platforms which do not respect people’s privacy, nor do the platforms uphold our values around human rights and democracy. However, as a business, we do need revenue in order to pay ourselves for the great work we do, and others for their services. For this revenue we need to market ourselves.



Marketing is a major obstacle for many businesses so we wanted to share how we go about ethical marketing in the hope this will inspire some of you, and hopefully get some critique and feedback on our choices and mechanisms.

The method

We teach that ethical judgement aligns with an ethical framework. So we want to make sure our marketing is inline with our political and ethical values. In addition to whether we are upholding these values, we ask ourselves whether the suppliers we work with and the services we use also uphold these values.


Hattusia is engaged in a full range of digital marketing practices but to ensure this article doesn’t get tooooo long, we’re just going to focus on how we created a performance marketing based strategy that is aligned with our political and social axioms.


Performance marketing is largely defined as the range of digital marketing activities in which an advertiser pays on completion of a specific action, whether this is a lead, a sale, a click, or others. Performance marketing has potential issues that can arise from its use; it’s heavily reliant on surveillance capitalism and tracking software, marketing funnels are also often associated with ideas of persuading individuals to purchase products they don’t really need.


Privacy


Regardless of the means in which an individual has arrived on our website our website itself must remain a safe and privacy focused space. This has potential to limit the effectiveness of any performance marketing as it will limit behavioural targeting. However the effectiveness of behavioural targeting is debated. Maintaining a privacy focused website does mean:


  1. Cookies are minimal or non-existent.

  2. Analytics must be privacy focused (get in the sea Google Analytics). We use Fathom Analytics.

  3. Tracking pixels cannot be used.

  4. Any lead magnets used for basic data capture (emailing addresses or similar) must be warranted, must be optional, and must provide value to the individual for exchange of their information.

Targeting


The ads that we run on these platforms must be as broad as possible in their targeting so as to avoid any incidental discrimination towards particular groups. We should also regularly assess our targeting to make sure it is representative of a full population and if we are not seeing fully representative targeting we can adjust our budgets to manually enforce this.


Performance marketing platforms


Even before starting our research it’s immediately clear that none of these platforms are going to be perfect and most rely heavily on core mechanisms that are used to perpetuate systems of surveillance capitalism. It’s also worth noting that it is almost impossible to exist in a digital space without interacting with platforms that contravene our social and moral axioms.


Google

Google and surveillance capitalism


Google is the godfather of surveillance capitalism. This is a lovely read about the full extent to which the platform tracks your every waking move. Google analytics is present on 54.9% of all websites, Google Chrome has a market share of 69.28% and android operating systems have a 71.9% market share. Google has bought private banking data in secret, cut deals to track retail sales through mastercard, and was sued in 2017 for inappropriately accessing private medical data. Add this to the 241 other acquired companies including Youtube, FitBit, & Waze and Google has a pretty dominant slice of the data pie.


Google is actively trying to control users actions, this absolute transparency through subjugation to guaranteed outcomes is the hallmark of surveillance capitalism.


Shares data with advertisers ✔️ Tracks you throughout the web ✔️

Tracks you even when not logged in ✔️

Tracks your contacts ✔️


Overall score 💩


Google and our social and moral axioms

A photo of the google offices
Google offices, genocidal denial not pictured

Despite protests throughout their workforce they are actively involved in military contracts and their ad platforms have promoted genocide denial. They have tried to create censored search engines and paid extremists through ad revenue on youtube.


Overall score 💩💩


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