Submit a Manuscript to the Journal

Journal of Advertising

For a Special Issue on

Surveillance and Ethics in Advertising

Manuscript deadline
31 March 2024

Cover image - Journal of Advertising

Special Issue Editor(s)

Claire M. Segijn, University of Minnesota, USA
[email protected]

Joanna Strycharz, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands
[email protected]

Sophie C. Boerman, Wageningen University & Research, The Netherlands
[email protected]

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Surveillance and Ethics in Advertising

Developments in digital technologies have greatly transformed the landscape of advertising around the world. The technical possibilities and low costs of collection and processing of consumer data have led to the domination of the landscape by digital data-driven advertising (e.g., personalized advertising, social media advertising, computational advertising, programmatic advertising, artificial intelligence (AI)-powered advertising). This contributes to so-called ‘dataveillance’, which is the “automated, continuous, and (unspecific) collection, retention, and analysis of digital traces by people or groups, by means of personal data systems by state and corporate actors, to regulate or govern their behavior”. While extant research has focused on examining consumer privacy concerns, the surveillance by advertisers who collect consumers’ information raises a number of broader societal and ethical issues (see ‘potential topics’ list below) and might have consequences for the advertising practice.

Surveillance and ethics involve different parties, such as the advertising, technology, and media industries, consumers, and regulators. Companies need to think about responsibilities and ethics around data collection, storage, and processing. Examples include their role in information asymmetry and their responsibility of transparency in these processes, defined here as “the degree of disclosure of the ways in which firms collect, process, or share (exchange) personal data with the purpose of generating personalized communication”. Additionally, the monopoly of a limited number of technology firms and their role in hardware, technological support, and data aggregation, raises ethical questions.

For consumers, it creates new divides and vulnerabilities. Limited awareness and understanding could lead to information asymmetry, and perceptions of surveillance could potentially affect consumers’ agency and autonomy online.

Finally, regulators may play a role in this debate as well by asking to what extent these new ethical challenges require legal protection for consumers. Data security, consumer protection, and privacy protection are of central interest to the regulators in the advertising ecosystem. However, recent research suggests that current consumer empowerment practices are not always effective at improving consumers’ control over data collection. The balance between consumer empowerment, ensuring fairness in advertising, while at the same time promoting technological innovations and stimulating the new data economy, poses a challenge to the regulators.

Given the centrality of consumer data in advertising practices and increasing amounts of surveillance both online and offline, this special issue seeks to publish innovative papers that examine the theoretical and managerial implications of surveillance and ethics in advertising. Our hope is to stimulate further research in this area. This special issue also responds to broader calls for a more diverse and contemporary development of advertising theory.

Potential Topics

We welcome submissions using diverse perspectives in terms of theoretical, conceptual, methodological, or empirical work, and encourage prospective authors to review recently published papers in the Journal of Advertising to understand both the Journal’s rigor and style. We also encourage submissions from multidisciplinary research teams bringing together different perspectives on the topic, as well as (comparative) research focusing on non-WEIRD countries (Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic). Relevant topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Theoretical frameworks to study (new) ethical & surveillance questions
  • Consumer perspectives on and perceptions of surveillance
  • Consumer vulnerability, stereotyping, and social sorting
  • Privacy concerns and privacy cynicism related to surveillance and ethics
  • Transparency and information asymmetry
  • Consumer empowerment, agency, and autonomy
  • Impact of surveillance on consumer well-being
  • Chilling effects and its implications for advertisers
  • Industry perspectives on surveillance and ethics
  • Consensual advertising models
  • Ethics-washing
  • Environmental impacts of dataveillance
  • The role and responsibilities of the tech industry
  • Ethical questions related to the affordances of new technologies
  • Power relations between stakeholders
  • Fairness in data-driven advertising and algorithmic persuasion
  • Technological solutions (e.g., blockchain)
  • Regulatory solutions (e.g., blacklists)
  • The regulatory perspective on surveillance and ethics
  • New methods to study surveillance and ethics (e.g., data donation studies, computational approaches)

Submission Instructions

Submissions should follow the manuscript submission guidelines for JA found at word count should be 12,000 words maximum (including references, tables, figures, etc.).

All manuscripts should be submitted through the JA Submission Site during March 1 – March 31, 2024. Authors should select “SPECIAL ISSUE: Surveillance and Ethics in Advertising” as “Manuscript Type.” Please also note in the cover letter that the submission is for the Special Issue on Surveillance and Ethics in Advertising.

  • All articles will undergo blind peer review by at least two reviewers.
  • The anticipated date for publication of the Special Issue is February 2025.

Any questions about the Special Issue can be sent to the guest editors: Drs. Claire M. Segijn, Joanna Strycharz, and Sophie C. Boerman at [email protected].

Instructions for AuthorsSubmit an Article