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AI Ethics: Navigating the Ethical Concerns of Marketing AI

AI ethics definition: AI ethics are a set of moral guidelines for the responsible use, design, and development of AI.

Artificial intelligence (AI) has been changing how we work and live. In marketing, AI has been delivering benefits such as increased efficiency and improved user experience, thus companies using them get ahead of their competitors.

“The future undoubtedly involves AI,” says Shane Jones, WebFX’s VP of Earned Media and Content. “Businesses that learn, integrate, and embrace AI the best will leave others behind. Consumers will be looking for companies that are on the cutting edge as well, so having positioning around AI is also of the utmost importance.”

However, along with its benefits come concerns.

The fast rollout means that every business needs to pivot. It has become more a ‘race to the top’ than it is for quality control. That definitely has some big concerns.

Shane Jones, WebFX’s VP of Earned Media and Content

As AI’s global market revenue is forecast to grow by $107 billion in 2028, it’s vital to have ethical guidelines to reduce risks.

This blog post will discuss AI ethics in marketing and why it’s important to practice the ethical use of AI. Feel free to jump into the topics:

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What are AI ethics?

AI ethics are a set of moral guidelines for the responsible use, design, and development of AI. These guidelines are necessary so that AI developers and adopters can better serve humanity and reduce the risks that the technology poses in these areas:

  • Bias and errors
  • Privacy
  • Environment

Why are AI ethics in marketing important?

As AI becomes ubiquitous and part of many people’s lives, it has become critical for businesses to engage in the ethical use of AI.

Imagine a powerful tool that can alter how you do business and market your offerings to your prospects — it makes sense to have guidelines to prevent misuse and abuse of AI technology.

Without AI ethics, bias, privacy, environmental, and other issues can crop up. Ethical guidelines ensure that AI projects use unbiased and accurate data that represents various groups.

In addition, an ethical framework ensures that organizations training their AI use only data that their customers and prospects have agreed to share, thus respecting their data privacy. Businesses like yours must also implement data safeguarding to ensure that the customer data you’re entrusted with is protected from data breaches.

AI projects require high computing power. What is the acceptable energy footprint that each organization can consume? AI ethics ensure that the technology doesn’t adversely impact the environment.

4 AI ethical concerns in marketing

AI provides several benefits to marketing. For one, it enables personalization, which results in business profitability, according to 90% of marketers.

It comes with ethical concerns, though. “For me, the biggest concerns with AI are how this technology becomes commonplace in our daily flow,” Shane shares.

Here are four AI ethical concerns:

  1. Transparency
  2. Privacy
  3. Bias
  4. Cybersecurity threats

Let’s go through each one:

1. Transparency

“One of the biggest ethical concerns of AI is the lack of transparency on how the end result is formulated,” says Gina Shuleski, WebFX Director of MarketingCloudFX.

Do your customers know you are collecting and using AI to process their data? To gain the trust of your customers and prospects, it’s important to disclose whether an AI is handling or processing their data.

2. Privacy

Among the marketers we recently surveyed, data privacy is one of their top concerns with using AI for marketing. To protect the privacy of your customers and prospects, businesses like yours must give your customers to opt out of your data collection.

It’s also critical for businesses to safeguard the data they’ve collected to prevent data breaches and legal conflict.

3. Bias

Gina also cites bias, inaccuracies, and discriminatory outcomes as AI ethical concerns.

“Most of AI’s language models are built on data from the past,” Shane points out. “They can’t fully recognize the subtle changes and progress in language and society.”

As a result, prompts to large language models (LLMs) like GPT will result in continued bias, Shane explains. “The outcomes will just repeat previously demonstrated and repeated behaviors, which are not always beneficial,” he says.

Shane is optimistic that we can overcome bias, though. “Algorithmic decision-making — when used in the right places and with the right data — can offer an objective way of overcoming human subjectivity and bias,” he says. “If we use data based on previous human decisions, then we will continue to replicate and embed the biases that already exist into our system.”

If you’re using AI, make sure your data sets are diverse and representative of various groups. Training an AI with data of disproportionate representation can result in inaccurate predictions. It can also result in biased assumptions and unfairly targeted advertisements.

Make sure you regularly audit your data and AI system.

4. Cybersecurity threats

Behind the sleek and easy-to-use interface are complicated machine learning and LLMs. They pose a lot of cybersecurity threats.

Shane Jones, WebFX’s VP of Earned Media and Content

Shane cites cybersecurity threats through AI package hallucination as another AI ethical concern. How does such a cybersecurity threat work?

When users enter prompts on systems like ChatGPT, they tend to trust the AI’s recommendations. These AI systems, however, can sometimes respond with hallucinated sources, statistics, and links. They even link to coding libraries that don’t exist. Because AI systems like ChatGPT are trained with past data, they may even link to old blogs that are no longer live.

Cyber attackers can take advantage of this flaw. By asking ChatGPT for coding solutions, they discover links to non-existent packages.

Attackers can publish their malicious package with the URL suggested by an AI. As a result, when a user asks an AI for a coding solution, they get a recommended URL that directs to the malicious link.

Bonus Read: AI Cybersecurity

WebFX and AI ethics

WebFX practices responsible use of AI.

WebFX is educating all team members on the potential pitfalls and the proper ways to use AI for the best outcomes for our clients.

Gina Shuleski, WebFX Director of MarketingCloudFX

In addition, we are focused on reducing hallucinations and the impact of bias in ChatGPT’s responses. How?

“The first step in mitigating issues is to understand the technology better and have appropriate expectations on how it can be integrated,” Shane explains.

He adds that all WebFX’s Earned Media team members have completed — or are scheduled to complete — an Ethics course on the use and training of AI at the Polytechnic University of Milan, Italy’s largest technical university.

All the content we produce — including this blog post you’re reading — is also created by humans. “We guarantee that every piece of content is original, meaning our pieces are not duplicate content, plagiarized, or AI-generated,” Shane shares.

He adds: “If we use AI in our research process or plan around Google’s natural language processing for ranking content, we invest in time and resources to verify any statement or research from these tools before we use them.”

By doing so, our customers are assured that the content we produce is “truthful, accurate, timely, and clear of any ethical biases,” Shane adds.

We’re masters of our craft.

WebFX is a marketing and design industry leader.

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Leverage AI ethically with WebFX

AI delivers several benefits for marketing and for businesses like yours. However, it’s critical to follow AI ethical guidelines to ensure you’re using the technology responsibly and protecting your customers’ data.

If you need help with AI marketing, consider teaming up with WebFX. We’re a full-service digital marketing agency with 25+ years of experience in 200+ industries. That said, our team of 500+ digital marketing experts is well-versed in AI terms.

Our proprietary revenue growth platform, MarketingCloudFX, is an AI-powered software that enables you to capture more leads, draw insights from your data, and close more sales. You can rest assured that our team practices ethical use of AI so that you can foster trust among your prospects and customers.

Contact us online or call us at 888-601-5359 to speak with a strategist about our AI services.

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