This post has been migrated and imported into different systems over the years, I have not had a chance to format this post manually so it may be hard to read but I have left it here as a reference.

Online advertising is a very one sided market with all emphasis being put on the companies that need a quick way to reach users but almost no thought is put on the user. Of course it is not the companies responsibility in mind, unless they manually put their adverts on websites, it is up to the ad networks. There are many ad networks out there, the biggest being Google Adwords. Now the only way for a user to give feedback about an ad is to search through Google’s help pages which is nowhere near easy.

So what’s the problem with online advertising?

Sure, online advertising has been around for a long time, over 30 years if wikipedia is correct. Eventually all the ads became too much for users, especially with javascript and flash animations that sometimes included sound. Oh and don’t even get me started on malware and viruses that have been spread through online ads. This abuse by companies has led users to create and use adblockers such as Adblock Plus which even I use with the exception of websites that I trust and go to often. This leads to big losses for companies that earn money through advertising which is unfortunate, I personally feel bad when blocking ads on some sites but I don’t want it to ruin my experience and I do not want to risk getting malware if I can prevent it.

So how do we solve this problem?

Ad networks need to start listening to the user more which would be very easy to do and it would probably give companies a better return. Users can help companies advertise in a way that is fair to the user and that won’t annoy them. A rating system could be implemented for ads which would be based on certain criteria. You could also have different categories to allow for different kinds of ads. I’m sure Google could even get more registered users as a registered account might be needed to set the rating of ads you want to see. For example I might choose to only see ads that are static images and hide anything with animations or sounds. This creates a better experience for myself, I might even like the ads being presented, I will also support the sites that I visit and the companies that do the advertising are happy that they can reach a wider audience. With the rating system in place the companies could also get great feedback on what users love and hate and some users might even give useful ideas on how to improve conversion rates on ads. Users could have some kind of point system to reward them depending on how active and accurate they are in their ratings, similar to how the rating system on Stack Overflow works.