The effects of ethics in digital marketing – a study of personalization in SMEs (Small and Medium sized Enterprises)
Start date: 2024-01-01
End date: 2026-12-31
Personalization is about tailoring an experience or communication based on information a company has learned about an individual. Many SMEs face several critical issues in regards to use of personalization in the context of laws for data protection (GDPR), limited use of third-party cookies, and application of profiling for personalization. For example, online integrity, data breaches, biased content and conflicts related to regulations regarding data privacy and data rights. The objective is to contribute with development of guidelines for digital strategies for dealing with potential privacy backlash in combination with risk registers in Swedish SMEs making use of personalization.
Previous research has shown that personalization is one of the most controversial practices used by digital marketers right now, but few studies focus on practitioners' perspectives on ethics in digital marketing. Short-term thinking will push companies towards unethical positions. Through qualitative company and expert interviews and document analysis, I will explore the importance of preserving customer privacy, the use of personalization as a marketing practice, the ethical concerns arising from the collection and use of customer data, and the legal framework for GDPR.
- To identify the use of innovative technologies for personalization purposes and ethical issues related to their implementation.
- To examine the importance of ethical personalization methods in small and medium-sized companies in Sweden and to understand how ethics are defined, applied and made concrete through specific digital marketing methods.
- To develop, discuss and circulate guidelines for ethically based digital marketing practices, specifically addressing personalization, based on project findings.