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Business Ethics and Best Practices for Creating PPC Ads

  • The importance of business ethics in digital marketing
  • Good business ethics will boost brand reputation
  • How does adhering to business ethics benefit PPC ads?
  • Business ethics digital marketers should follow when creating PPC ads

Competition in digital advertising is on the rise, and in a bid to beat the competition, it’s easy to get wrapped up in questionable methods and shady tactics.

Don’t stray from ethical pay-per-click (PPC) practices, as this will do more harm than good for your business and potentially land you in legal trouble. Instead, digital marketers should always prioritise business ethics across all areas of the advertising realm, including PPC ads.

Digital marketers should ensure that they have an ethics mechanism in place, as this will play a massive role in the success of your business and serve as a guideline to conduct fair business online.

In this piece, we’ll be focusing on the importance of ethics for PPC ads.

Why is business ethics important when creating PPC ads?

Business ethics refers to the way firms attract customers through ads, conduct business with your consumers and all the elements in between.

With more people demanding digital marketing, it has become increasingly important to consider ethics when interacting on digital platforms to ensure honesty, fairness, transparency and social responsibility.

There are forms of digital marketing that go beyond what is proper or acceptable by using blackhat practices such as bait and switch, plagiarism, and pyramid schemes.

Marketers with a good moral compass build their PPC campaigns based on ethical and business perspectives by remaining truthful, refraining from adversity and being culturally sensitive.

You should never deceive your consumers and trick them into purchasing your products or services. While some find adhering to ethical practices one of the most challenging aspects of PPC advertising, there are several ways you could promote trust among your target audience and uphold the rules of ethics in digital marketing.

With customers now more concerned about what brands represent and how they contribute to the community, business ethics will help underpin your business.

Business ethics will foster relationships with customers

Adhering to business ethics will improve the quality of service and help you build strong relationships with your customers by positioning your company as authentic and trustworthy.

Ethical businesses boost customer loyalty by showcasing integrity, responsibility and accountability, fostering a greater affective connection between customers and the brand.

Digital marketers should always put their customers before clicks (and profit) to elicit more positive emotions and build audience retention.

Business ethics boost brand reputation

Ethical business behaviour can help enhance your company’s reputation and create a positive image of your brand in the marketplace, which could help bring in new customers.

If a customer clicks on your ad and has a positive experience, they are more likely to recommend your product or service to someone else. However, in an age when dissatisfied customers can quickly disseminate information about their experiences, it’s increasingly important to engage in ethical practices to prevent damaging your brand image.

Prioritising ethics will also improve ad performance as brand reputation will directly impact the behaviour of your PPC ads. A poor reputation will quickly show in the form of negative reviews. Be mindful that many people check reviews before committing to purchase. Therefore, employing good ethics could be the difference between gaining and losing a sale. 

A reputation for unethical dealings will result in wasted ad spend and a poor brand image. To avoid damaging your reputation, here are five business ethics you should follow when creating PPC ads.

Five business ethics marketers should adhere to when creating PPC ads

The primary motivation for following ethical business practices in your PPC advertisements is to help you build solid relationships with your customers. We’ve focused on five effective methods you could adhere to when creating PPC ads to ensure they follow business ethics principles.

Do not promote deceptive products

One of the most prevalent forms of unethical behaviour in the advertising industry is promoting misleading products.

Some brands are purposefully misleading in a desperate bid to drive clicks, but this is a practice you should never follow as promising prospects a degree of excellence that you cannot fulfil will end up damaging your brand.

Examples of misleading ads include:

  • advertising products or services that you cannot deliver
  • using irrelevant high-traffic keywords
  • hyping up your product or service by asserting that it does something that, in reality, it cannot

No matter how desperate you are to gain clicks, never mislead your customers. The long-term effect of unethical business will also do more harm than good to your business, as customers that click on your ad will only be left disappointed and avoid your business in the future.

An ethical business will always be truthful about the characteristics and capabilities of any product or service they advertise.

There will always be a market for your product or service, so don’t promise prospects a level of service that you can’t provide. You’re essentially making a false claim by embellishing the benefits of your product or service. 

Only include genuine links in your PPC ads

Ensure that the message in your ads links to the relevant destination. Promoting a product or service that connects to an entirely different landing page is essentially deception.

Unfortunately, the use of disingenuine links is a common unethical practice that businesses engage in when creating and promoting their PPC advertisements. However, “bait and switch” goes against good business ethics and is considered a form of sales fraud.

Furthermore, Google could penalise you for redirecting prospects to pages that have no relevance to your PPC ad and remove the advertisement, which could also damage your site’s performance in search results. 

No matter how competitive your niche is, don’t try to rack up impressions and clicks on your ads by luring customers into popular keywords that generate substantial amounts of traffic, as fake ads will result in a loss of integrity.

Sell your product or service at a reasonable price

Some ethical issues – don’t steal, treat others how you would like to be treated, be mannerable – are extremely easy to understand. However, knowing what is right and wrong can become a little blurry when it comes to digital marketing.

Fair pricing is one ethic that isn’t so clear cut but extremely important. Businesses that use ethical pricing strategies to earn a profit are far valued more highly than those that overprice products or mislead customers.

One of the most prominent difficulties of pricing ethics is establishing a balance of power between the business and the customer. When considering how to price products fairly, you should look at:

  • availability
  • competitors’ pricing
  • market factors

To avoid entering the pricing grey area, ensure that you are fully transparent about the costs of your products and services to customers. There is nothing more frustrating for consumers than thinking you’ve found a good deal on a product, to then click through to the ad and see that there was a catch.

That goes for all aspects of the campaign, including shipping, promotional codes and offers – you must be honest about the costs your customers will incur when purchasing from your business.

Adhering to this ethical practice will foster trust and reduce the risk of high bounce rates and cart abandonment.

When creating your PPC ads, always step back and think about what the price looks like from a customer perspective. You can use Google alerts to help you during the research phase to monitor the best consumer trends for your prospective customers.

Don’t steal or plagiarise content

While marketers should research their competitors to see the methods they may have employed for their best performing ads, never plagiarise other brands content.

If you want your brand to perform well, adhere to Google’s search quality evaluator guidelines, paying extra attention to the Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness (EAT) section.

We’ve outlined below how each impacts your ad copy creation process:


Your ad should demonstrate the level of expertise you have in your niche or industry. However, don’t oversell yourself or present a misleading image of your brand, as that would be unethical.


You want your brand to appear as an authoritative source as this will improve your credibility. A good reputation stems from practising good business ethics, which can be achieved by utilising powerful but relevant keywords and showcasing your mastery at every stage of the sales funnel.


Trust matters in PPC advertising, and if you don’t have the appropriate measures in place, you’ll find that your customers will go to rival brands where trust is established.

In PPC, trust is built between brand and consumer by being authentic. Does your site have security measures such as HTTPS and secure checkout? Have you got testimonials and reviews displayed where they are easily visible?

Don’t hide contact information either, as new customers will want to know that they can get in touch with you if they experience an issue or have concerns about a product or service.

With so many brands competing in the same industry, authenticity and originality are essential if you want to stand out from the competition.

Adhering to Google’s search quality evaluator guidelines will help ensure your website demonstrates EAT and attract the ideal buyer persona, which should help drive conversion.

Never engage in click fraud

One of PPC’s advantages – the cost-per-click (CPC) model has become its weakness after being exploited by crafty marketers committing click fraud.

Click fraud refers to the act of exploiting PPC ads by repeatedly clicking on them when they appear in search results or on another website, generating fraudulent charges. Click fraud causes the marketer’s ad spend to skyrocket but sends their conversion rate plummeting and skews valuable data.

Unethical marketers tend to leverage click fraud as part of their business strategy to exhaust the competition’s ad spend and increase traffic to their ads or website. Sometimes marketers use click fraud on their own PPC ads to boost the quality score on Google Ads and improve the position of their webpages in search engine results pages (SERPs).

Quality score is determined by two primary factors: clickthrough rate and ad relevance, both of which can be manipulated through click fraud.

Marketers are tempted to engage in click fraud as a good quality score results in:

  • lower cost-per-click rates
  • reduced acquisition costs
  • improved ad performance

While click fraud has its advantages, it is a black-hat technique that should never be utilised. If you want to improve the performance of your PPC ads, make sure it’s within the confines of good ethical practice for business.

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