Is Your Advertiser Ethical?

What do you require and expect when you advertise your business?

As an online advertiser we want to make sure that businesses are getting the correct advertising for their needs. We understand that there are different needs and different end users.

This is a summary of what is available in the world of advertising, what type might suit your business best, what to look out for, questions to ask yourself, information to include and what to expect from an ethical advertiser.

This is intended to be a living document which will be updated as time goes by. Therefore, if you have any suggestions for inclusions then please let me know. You will help me to create what I hope to be a really useful summary of ethical advertising. You will find my contact details at the bottom of this document. Thank you.


The purpose of your advertisement
  • What is your target market?
  • Who are your customers?
  • Are you a retailer looking for end users?
  • Are you a trade industry looking for B2B opportunities?
  • Are you predominantly after product/service sales?
  • Are you predominantly looking for brand awareness?
  • Is your business local, regional or global?
  • Are you promoting or expanding your business?
  • Where can you see your advert making the most impact?
  • What are your expectations from this advert in terms of results?
  • What aspect of your business do you seek to promote in this advert?
What to include in your advertisement

Depending on your purpose, here is useful information to include:

  • Company Name
  • Contact Name and Title
  • Contact details (ie: email, phone, Skype, website, social media links)
  • Location
  • Directions – map
  • Opening Hours
  • If you are a local, regional or global business
  • Do you sell products or services?
  • Do you have any other branches?
  • Description of your business
  • Do you have disability access?
  • Parking facilities
  • Logo and/or relevant images

If you are advertising an event you might want to include the following:

  • Your company and contact details
  • Title of event
  • Name of presenter(s)
  • Information about the presenter(s)
  • Date(s)
  • Length of event and times
  • Venue location
  • Directions – map
  • Description of event content
  • Cost and method of payment
  • Parking availability
  • Is accommodation provided? If not, can you recommend anywhere?
  • Are refreshments provided?
  • Do attendees have to bring anything with them?
  • Is there a dress code?
  • Links to images or videos describing the event
How to identify an ethical advertiser
  • How did you hear about them – was it by recommendation?
  • Do they have a good reputation in the marketplace?
  • Check out who else they advertise to see if they attract ethical companies.
  • They will be transparent about their pricing – they won’t adjust their prices to suit themselves.
  • They will collaborate with you in order to present your company in the most effective way.
  • They will treat you fairly and work to ensure your advert gets the best exposure.
  • They will promote your business as vigorously as they promote their own.
  • They promote their own literature and/or website well to ensure maximum exposure.
  • They are reasonably priced and give value for money.
  • They will respond to your questions and resolve any issues.
  • They will be great communicators, both with you and your business and with your potential and future clients.
  • They must understand your message and translate it in creative ways to get your clients’ attention, earn their trust, and want your product or service.
  • They will provide statistics on the efficacy of the advert.
  • They will at all times treat you like a valued customer.
Different Forms of Advertising

Billboard Advertising (also known as Outdoor or Out-Of-Home (OOH))

A billboard is a secondary advertising medium, which means that it’s ideal for brand-building and supporting a campaign. Here are some strategies to ensure your billboard has the highest chance of being noticed, and more importantly, remembered.

  • Six words or less is ideal – people are on the move when they read billboards so it needs to be short to get the message across. If you have a complex brand, product or service, you should stay away from billboards completely.
  • Get noticed but don’t be distracting – billboards are aimed at drivers, cyclists, bikers and pedestrians. You don’t want to be responsible for accidents.
  • No contact details – unless your website or phone number is the headline, it’s a waste of space to put contact details on your billboard.
  • Be smart but not too clever – a smart billboard will grab the attention and leave a lasting impression. Complex puzzles are no good here.
  • The more billboards the better – one billboard isn’t cheap but it’s also not very effective. Every billboard has a rating, called Gross Ratings Points (GRP). It’s based on traffic, visibility, location, size and so on.
  • Don’t say it, show it – get creative. A flat billboard is the standard, but you can go 3D, have moving parts, have people interacting with it and even have your billboard animate. By doing something eye-catching and memorable you can create additional press coverage, for free.

Other forms of outdoor advertising include:

  • Point of sale displays
  • treet furniture (bus shelters, kiosks, telephone booths)
  • Transit advertising (taxis, buses, tubes, trains)
  • Mobile billboards
  • Guerrilla advertising (aka ambient media)
Broadcast Advertising

This comprises television advertising, radio advertising, mass media advertising, television commercials, radio spots, TV spots, above-the-line commercials. Before the Internet, broadcast advertising was the most popular way to reach a mass-market audience.

Reach Your Target Audience
  • As an advertiser, you will pay for a spot based on multiple considerations, including length, the time the spot goes out, which channel it is on, and most importantly, which show is airing at that time. This purchase will be handled by the media department of an advertising agency, or a media buying agency, whose job it is to negotiate the best rates and times for the commercials.
  • This is expensive because before you buy air time, you also have to produce the commercial.
  • Another form of broadcast advertising that proves very popular for generating sales is direct response television (DRTV), popularly known as an infomercial. This is advertising that asks for the sale, and gives you a way to order direct via information given in the advert. This is frowned upon by most large advertising agencies as being a cheap and dirty way to get sales, and is not considered a good way to build a quality brand.
Subliminal Advertising
  • Subliminal literally means “below threshold” and as such is supposed to be something that your subconscious registers, not your conscious mind.
  • Advertising has used its fair share of these “tricks of the trade” over the decades, and some forms of it are outlawed. There are ways to get your hidden message across without breaking any laws and it can be quite an effective way to stimulate the senses and influence your buying decision.
Guerrilla Advertising (Ambient media)

This relates to anything unconventional, and usually invites the consumer to participate or interact with the piece in some way. Location is important, as is timing. The driving forces are creative ideas and innovation not a large budget, and they will spread via word of mouth and social media.

Reach Your Target Audience
  • Undercover marketing – subtle product placement
  • Experiential marketing – interaction with product
  • Tissue-pack marketing – hand-to-hand marketing
  • Reverse Graffiti – clean pavement advertising
  • Viral marketing – through social networks
  • Buzz marketing – word of mouth marketing
  • Grassroots marketing – tapping into the collective efforts of brand enthusiasts
  • Wild Posting Campaigns
  • Wait marketing – when and where consumers are waiting
  • It’s a fantastic way to capture the attention and imagination of your target audience, but you need to be original as many consumers are sick of the advert bombardment they face every day.
  • Good marketing doesn’t have to cost anything. It can be most effective when it’s free, using news outlets to spread the message for you.
Rules that should be followed
  • It should be based on human psychology rather than experience, judgment, and guesswork.
  • nstead of money, the primary investments of marketing should be time, energy, and imagination.
  • The primary statistic to measure your business is the amount of profits, not sales.
  • The marketer should also concentrate on how many new relationships are made each month.
  • Create a standard of excellence with an acute focus instead of offering too many diverse products and services.
  • Instead of concentrating on getting new customers aim for more referrals, more transactions with existing customers, and larger transactions.
  • Forget about the competition and concentrate more on cooperating with other businesses.
  • Guerrilla marketers should use a combination of marketing methods for a campaign.
  • Use current technology as a tool to build your business.
  • Messages aimed at individuals or small groups, the smaller the better. Focus on gaining the consent of the individual to send them more information rather than trying to make the sale.
Internet Advertising

Internet advertising has proven to be a targeted approach to reaching your customer base, and is a cost effective and measurable method of obtaining new customers. Online advertising is widely used across virtually all industry sectors.

Reach Your Target Audience
  • Advertorials – an advertorial is an advertisement in the form of an editorial.
  • Banners – this form of online advertising entails embedding an advert into a web page. It is intended to attract traffic to a website by linking to the website of the advertiser.
  • Branded chat rooms – a way to invite your friends and followers to participate in brand-related discussions.
  • Email
  • Search engines have people on every day looking to buy products or services. Business owners can use advertising platforms like Google AdWords to reach this captive audience.
  • Social media ie. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest – to name but a few.
  • Videos
  • Webinars (web conferencing) – this allows real-time point-to-point communications as well as multicast communications from one sender to many receivers.
  • Websites and blogs
  • Cost – Online advertising, and in particular social media, provides a low-cost means for advertisers to engage with large established communities.
  • Coverage – online advertising can reach nearly every global market, and online advertising influences offline sales.
  • Formatting – a wide variety of ways of presenting promotional messages, including conveying images, video, audio, and links. Unlike many offline adverts, online adverts also can be interactive.
  • Measurability – helps online advertisers improve their advertising campaigns over time.
  • Targeting – the ability to reach customisable and narrow market segments for targeted advertising.
  • Speed – once the design is complete, online adverts can be deployed immediately.
  • Banner blindness – eye-tracking studies have shown that Internet users often ignore web page zones likely to contain display adverts.
  • Fraud – there are numerous ways that advertisers can be overcharged for their advertising. For example, click fraud can occur when a competitor clicks on adverts to deplete its rival’s advertising budget, or when publishers attempt to manufacture revenue.
  • Technological variations – online adverts may appear differently to users than the advertiser intended, or they may not display properly at all.
  • Ad-blocking – means the adverts do not appear to the user because the user uses technology to screen them out.
  • Anti-targeting technologies – some web browsers offer privacy modes where users can hide information about themselves from publishers and advertisers.
  • Privacy – collection of user information by publishers and advertisers has raised consumer concerns about their privacy. 60% of Internet users would use Do Not Track technology to block all collection of information if given the opportunity.
  • Trustworthiness of advertisers – scammers can take advantage of consumers’ difficulties leading to:
    • phishing (where scam emails look identical to those from a well-known brand owner)
    • confidence schemes
    • malware risks
  • Spam – the Internet’s low cost of disseminating advertising contributes to spam, especially by large-scale spammers.
  • Regulation – in general, consumer protection laws apply equally to online and offline activities. However, there are questions over which jurisdiction laws apply and which regulatory agencies have enforcement authority over trans-border activity.
  • Privacy and Data Collection – privacy regulation can require users’ consent before an advertiser can track the user or communicate with them. However, affirmative consent (“opt in”) can be difficult and expensive to obtain so industry participants often prefer other regulatory schemes.
  • Delivery methods – many laws specifically regulate the ways online ads are delivered.
Mobile Advertising

This form of advertising uses mobile phones, iPads, Kindles and other portable electronic devices with Internet connectivity. Current trends in mobile advertising involve major use of social media such as Twitter and Facebook.

Reach Your Target Audience

In any place they take their mobile devices, ie:

  • In the aisles of the supermarket
  • Outside of a cinema
  • At a shopping centre
  • In a book or music store
  • At a car showroom
  • At government offices
  • In a toy store
  • More ads contain QR barcodes (a barcode that consists of squares instead of vertical lines). An ad in a magazine could contain a code that, when scanned, will send a relevant local advert to phones.
  • Mobile advertising can give people the power to see and buy, on the spot.
  • Advertisers and marketers can tap into people’s personal lives, find out what music they have listed on their Facebook page, link it to the city they are in, current location, and get them a ticket to a show starting in an hour.
  • Ads that interact with cell phones could shift the conversation away from a pure branding exercise to one that has a trackable ROI (return on investment).
Print Advertising

Newspapers, magazines, newsletters, booklets, flyers, direct mail, or anything else that would be considered a portable printed medium, comes under the banner of print advertising.

Reach Your Target Audience
  • Businesses – B2B print advertising in business magazines
  • Classified Advertising – prospective home-based business owners
  • Women – women’s general and special-interest magazines and newspapers
  • Men – men’s general and special-interest magazines and newspapers
  • Magazines and newspapers offer the ability to target a specific demographic through a product with which the audience connects.
  • Companies can target readers based on common interests, profession, region, or a variety of other factors. In addition, many publications provide readership demographics that include average household income, age, location, and spending habits.
  • Magazine and newspaper adverts can be viewed in a single glance and don’t require scrolling or clicking through.
  • When people read offline they tend to have longer attention spans. Web reading is useful for gathering quick blurbs of information, but people pay more attention to what they are reading in print. For this reason, consumers tend to remember more of what they read (and see) in print.
  • Print readers are also very loyal readers. People who read magazines or newspapers do so regularly.
  • Because print adverts are inherently visual, graphics and text can be used to convey an emotional response or create brand recognition.
  • Publications may have more competition nowadays but the core benefits of print advertising will be relevant for as long as consumers and business buyers read printed words on paper.
Product Placement Advertising

This is the promotion of branded goods and services within the context of a show or film, rather than as an explicit advertisement.

Public Service Advertising

Public Service Advertisements (PSA) are primarily designed to inform and educate rather than sell a product or service. They are provided by the media at no cost to non-profit organizations and government agencies which qualify for PSA airtime and space. However, it is very important to understand that it is strictly a voluntary act on their part. You must find ways to elicit local PSA usage and make a strong connection between your cause and the local
media that will support it.

The organisations which do the best local marketing job will be most successful in getting exposure through creative quality of materials, relevance of the issue and having appropriate material.

Word of Mouth

This is a valuable form of advertising as it stems from people liking your product/service and what you do and recommending you to others.


Please let me know if you have found this useful. Do you have any information I could include in an update? I look forward to hearing from you.


Sue Ellam   Author – Sue Ellam