Taking traditional advertising and marketing communications and putting them online, the experience inherently changes. Differences in the ways marketers engage with customers online can immediately be seen in the combination of media used and the increased interactive ability of the available platforms. Further, the content continues to stand as the core of the marketing and is altered by advertising and SEO experts for maximum impact.

Although messages can be appropriately tailored to specific online platforms (in addition to being optimized for SEO), the intended message of the content remains the same as it is the vehicle by which it is delivered that has evolved remarkably. The internet is dynamic and ever-changing and for this reason it offers wider possibilities and greater reach for marketers and SEO firms. By the same token, the internet’s constant evolution is precisely why it is hard for institutions to track online marketing for judicial and legislative implications as well as regulatory and best practice concerns. As a result, when institutions do take such measures, marketers tend to take notice. SOPA is surely an example of proposed legislation intended to regulate practice that would impact users of many online platforms.

The “Code”
With that understanding, we look at the Advertising and Marketing Communication Practice Consolidated ICC Code released in 2011 by the International Chamber of Commerce. This, the 9th edition of the Code, presents a set of principles to guide advertisers and marketers in their practice considering recent advances in the new digital landscape ushered in by the application of the internet in the industry. The Code intends to push ethical considerations forward and renew consumer trust in marketing. The Code is created by self-regulatory, marketing, and legal experts from around the world and presents the principles within a self-regulating framework that should inform how marketers present their ideas and engage their customers online.

The Code touches on best practices for consumer protection, respect for pubic groups, unsolicited communications, online behavioral advertising, and appropriateness across cultures, among other issues. The Code is an interesting offering and will most-likely be welcomed by SEO experts and marketers around the world as it has the best interest of all involved entities in mind. With that said, much of the listed concepts and behaviors are likely covered (be it more-broadly) in a code of ethics that many reputable companies operate from. Regardless, bringing the attention of the industry to these issues in a formal fashion is an important step in protecting the industry and creating a mutually beneficial experience for all parties; the consumer, the marketer, and the SEO company.