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Ethical and legal challenges of AI in marketing: an exploration of solutions

Dinesh Kumar (Mittal School of Business, Faculty of Business and Arts, Lovely Professional University, Phagwara, India)
Nidhi Suthar (Department of Administration, Pomento IT Services, Hisar, India)

Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society

ISSN: 1477-996X

Article publication date: 22 January 2024

Issue publication date: 4 March 2024

2190

Abstract

Purpose

Artificial intelligence (AI) has sparked interest in various areas, including marketing. However, this exhilaration is being tempered by growing concerns about the moral and legal implications of using AI in marketing. Although previous research has revealed various ethical and legal issues, such as algorithmic discrimination and data privacy, there are no definitive answers. This paper aims to fill this gap by investigating AI’s ethical and legal concerns in marketing and suggesting feasible solutions.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper synthesises information from academic articles, industry reports, case studies and legal documents through a thematic literature review. A qualitative analysis approach categorises and interprets ethical and legal challenges and proposes potential solutions.

Findings

The findings of this paper raise concerns about ethical and legal challenges related to AI in the marketing area. Ethical concerns related to discrimination, bias, manipulation, job displacement, absence of social interaction, cybersecurity, unintended consequences, environmental impact, privacy and legal issues such as consumer security, responsibility, liability, brand protection, competition law, agreements, data protection, consumer protection and intellectual property rights are discussed in the paper, and their potential solutions are discussed.

Research limitations/implications

Notwithstanding the interesting insights gathered from this investigation of the ethical and legal consequences of AI in marketing, it is important to recognise the limits of this research. Initially, the focus of this study is confined to a review of the most important ethical and legal issues pertaining to AI in marketing. Additional possible repercussions, such as those associated with intellectual property, contracts and licencing, should be investigated more deeply in future studies. Despite the fact that this study gives various answers and best practices for tackling the stated ethical and legal concerns, the viability and efficacy of these solutions may differ depending on the context and industry. Thus, more research and case studies are required to evaluate the applicability and efficacy of these solutions in other circumstances. This research is mostly based on a literature review and may not represent the experiences or opinions of all stakeholders engaged in AI-powered marketing. Further study might involve interviews or surveys with marketing professionals, customers and other key stakeholders to offer a full knowledge of the practical difficulties and solutions. Because of the rapid speed of technical progress, AI’s ethical and regulatory ramifications in marketing are continually increasing. Consequently, this work should be a springboard for more research and continuing conversations on this subject.

Practical implications

This study’s findings have several practical implications for marketing professionals. Emphasising openness and explainability: Marketing professionals should prioritise transparency in their use of AI, ensuring that customers are fully informed about data collection and utilisation for targeted advertising. By promoting openness and explainability, marketers can foster customer trust and avoid the negative consequences of a lack of transparency. Establishing ethical guidelines: Marketing professionals need to develop ethical rules for the creation and implementation of AI-powered marketing strategies. Adhering to ethical principles ensures compliance with legal norms and aligns with the organisation’s values and ideals. Investing in bias detection tools and privacy-enhancing technology: To mitigate risks associated with AI in marketing, marketers should allocate resources to develop and implement bias detection tools and privacy-enhancing technology. These tools can identify and address biases in AI algorithms, safeguard consumer privacy and extract valuable insights from consumer data.

Social implications

This study’s social implications emphasise the need for a comprehensive approach to address the ethical and legal challenges of AI in marketing. This includes adopting a responsible innovation framework, promoting ethical leadership, using ethical decision-making frameworks and conducting multidisciplinary research. By incorporating these approaches, marketers can navigate the complexities of AI in marketing responsibly, foster an ethical organisational culture, make informed ethical decisions and develop effective solutions. Such practices promote public trust, ensure equitable distribution of benefits and risk, and mitigate potential negative social consequences associated with AI in marketing.

Originality/value

To the best of the authors’ knowledge, this paper is among the first to explore potential solutions comprehensively. This paper provides a nuanced understanding of the challenges by using a multidisciplinary framework and synthesising various sources. It contributes valuable insights for academia and industry.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

Funding and/or conflicts of interests/competing interests: The authors declare that there is no conflict of interest associated with the publication of this paper. The authors did not receive any financial support or funding that could potentially create a conflict of interest. The authors also confirm that they have no competing interests, financial or otherwise, that could bias the results or interpretation of the data presented in this paper. The authors declare that they have conducted the research in an ethical and professional manner, and they have not engaged in any practices that could potentially compromise the integrity of the research findings.

Citation

Kumar, D. and Suthar, N. (2024), "Ethical and legal challenges of AI in marketing: an exploration of solutions", Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society, Vol. 22 No. 1, pp. 124-144. https://doi.org/10.1108/JICES-05-2023-0068

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2024, Emerald Publishing Limited

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