Crowdsourcing ad relevancy: Do you care if ads are relevant to you?

Crowdsourcing ad relevancy: Do you care if ads are relevant to you?

Summary: "Is this ad relevant to you?" You have probably seen this in recent times regarding ads, but do you even care if ads are relevant to you?

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Over the course of the past month or two, I have noticed a large increase in the number of sites that are asking their viewers a simple question in relation to their ads: "Is this ad relevant to you?" No doubt, the increase in sites exhibiting this behavior is most likely due to how many of them run ads from the same ad networks (i.e. Google AdSense), but the takeaway here is that these ad networks aren't simply pushing ads as they traditionally have.

Things are changing in the ad world and it could just be to the benefit of consumers in the end, but only if said consumers are willing to participate and make it so. Despite the increasing popularity of methods like neuromarketing, it seems the ad industry is interested in the overly-complicated, ultra-complex method of asking people a simple "yes" or "no" question. This may well be old news to individuals in the ad realm, but as a Web surfer noticing more and more sites asking me for my feedback about ads, I thought I would bring this to the attention of everyone and gather your feedback on the topic.

The range of opinions on ads is quite vast with those who loathe them on one extreme of the spectrum (Web surfers who use ad-blocking software/plug-ins, etc.) to those who absolutely love them on the opposite extreme (publishers, marketers, businesses et al). In the end, there is no denying that ads are an integral facet of the Internet's ecosystem. Without ads, not only would businesses fail to be as profitable in an age where brick-and-mortars are becoming somewhat of a rarity, but some of your favorite writers/bloggers wouldn't be as motivated to bring you the content they do. The time and energy many writers put into their craft just wouldn't be worth it if it weren't for compensation of the ad variety. Naturally, those are just two of many scenarios where ads serve a legit purpose. I guess you can discern from the latter that I'm pro-ads.

That said, I'm not pro-spam. What if -- in a perfect world -- ads catered to you so perfectly that they actually helped you make a purchasing decision? What if the worst thing you had to fear about ads was knowing that you would be presented with offers and products you almost couldn't turn down purchasing? Instead of being spammed with and/or having to wait through irrelevant ads while watching shows on sites like Hulu, what if -- dare I suggest -- you actually enjoyed an ad experience?

That sounds ridiculous and impossible, I know, but this must be the direction advertisers and content presenters/ad publishers move in if they want to secure an enjoyable ad experience for consumers, which I can't help but think would bolster the most earning potential from ads. Now, instead of displaying ads based on content and algorithmic guess work, this extra metric of crowdsourced ad relevancy is just another step to perfecting the balance of the ad ecosystem. Flipping your train of thought for a second, consider what all is in a question like "is this ad relevant to you?" When not taking it at face value, it's almost an ingenious way to coax you into watching an ad you might not have otherwise. In a sense, simply asking the question may in and of itself be a strategy to get more eyes on ads in general.

Even if you don't take the time to click "yes" or "no," there's a chance your brain has now been impacted by ads from companies that you would have never watched in the first place if not for the question "is this ad relevant to you?" Yes, this seemingly simple question may just don a deceptive mask of facade that pretends to be interested in your opinion while actually circumnavigating your ironclad ad defenses. Now, do I think I've hit on something for conspiracy theorists to go crazy over? Maybe. But I personally prefer Occam's razor over conspiracy theories. If anything, I think the aforementioned is more a case of a value-added component rather than a tactic of deception.

With that said, ad publishers may very well consider implementing a question like that simply for the sake of exploiting ad viewers. But on a larger scale, to not take into account the data provided from those who participate in answering the question is near-sighted, one-sided thinking that I'm not sure the ad industry would want to engage in for its longevity and maximum earning potential. All-in-all, let us not forget that the prime objective is for businesses and ad networks to make money, but I'm of the belief that it can be done while benefiting consumers/Web browsers, too. I'm quite confident the ad industry realizes this as well.

So, the next time you see an ad that asks for your opinion -- especially if you're forced to watch an ad while waiting for continued programming -- it may just behoove you to go ahead and click that "yes" or "no." After all, if you're going to have to deal with ads on the Internet, wouldn't it be great to primarily deal with ads that are relevant to you and display products you would actually be interested in? I think so.

What about you? What are your thoughts? Do you absolutely loathe ads and feel like they are the bane of your existence, or are you of the camp of ad-friendlies?

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38 comments
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  • What can Bing bring?

    Nice article.

    One thing that seems to be coming up regularly is the accuracy of Bing. I had a quick look at the underlying technologies that Bing comprises of and one thing that struck me was that one of the components analyses the use of natural language when people search in Bing. This means that they do not overlook key words like "Which" and "has" to try and understand the context of the question. Unlike Google who use keyword searches (which obviously works too).

    But if I were to search for "Can I buy a Lion in the UK" in google, the adverts will all suddenly change to "Import Lions into the UK". That's a terrible example but i hope it illustrates my point. I can safely say that every google ad I have ever seen on my own pc has been totally irrelevant.
    Alansonit
    • This really happened

      @Alansonit I had occasion one time to search for "atom bomb" on Google. The ad on the right said, "Find great prices on atom bombs at eBay."
      Robert Hahn
      • RE: Crowdsourcing ad relevancy: Do you care if ads are relevant to you?

        @Robert Hahn LOL. Didn't i see your name on the FBIs most wanted list?
        Alansonit
      • RE: Crowdsourcing ad relevancy: Do you care if ads are relevant to you?

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    • RE: Crowdsourcing ad relevancy: Do you care if ads are relevant to you?

      @Alansonit
      I tried typing in "Can I buy a Lion in the UK" in Google and was unable to replicate your result. No where did I find something about imports.
      anono
  • Some simple things first

    I agree that relevant ads are more interesting, and I don't mind useful offers. But the first place to work on this is removing ads that I can't buy because they aren't offered in my country. This can be done with simple geo-filters based in IP address. It's really annoying see ads for cool things you can't buy.
    A.Sinic
    • RE: Crowdsourcing ad relevancy: Do you care if ads are relevant to you?

      @A.Sinic targeted ads are annoying simply for the "I want it, but cant buy it" factor. Useful for build a Christmas list though :)
      Simple - <a href="http://www.seochester.co.uk/seo-north-wales.html">SEO North Wales</a>
      simplebob
  • Two false assumptions about ads

    One is the beneficence of advertisers, that they are trying to "inform you" in some way. This is patently false; their intent is to influence you to buy their product, regardless of quality or suitability. How many ads have you seen pitching the "second-best car in America"?

    The second false assumption is that advertisers qualify and target you to make your experience "more rewarding". The advertisers don't care about wasting your time and efforts in sorting through ads, although they do care (a little) about wasting their own resources. They also firmly believe that bad exposure is better than no exposure at all, which is why we have so many misleading Google ads today. Do a search on any product, and you will get ads from stores that do not have the product, never had the product, yet they knew that by lying to you in the ad, they would get you to possibly visit their site which is really all they want.

    Ads are a necessary evil in today's free-market media economy, but don't ever forget their nature: they are psychological tools used to induce you to buy things whether they are good for you or not.
    terry flores
    • RE: Crowdsourcing ad relevancy: Do you care if ads are relevant to you?

      @terry flores
      Oh, you've discovered capitalism. It's always only about making money. There is nothing wrong with it. It's what motivates businesses to be as good as they possibly can. Psycholgy has surely something to do with it as well but don't reduce the whole population to sheeps who can't control their actions and spending.
      CarboneCZ
  • RE: Crowdsourcing ad relevancy: Do you care if ads are relevant to you?

    Don't want 'em, relevant or not. I block ads on the internet and skip through them on TV with DVR. The only ads I ever see are on live sporting events because I have no choice.
    txscott
  • I have never seen an ad that I would call relevant

    All of the crap I have ever seen is useless drivel designed to separate me from my hard earned cash.

    There many ads that are just used to promote "brand awareness". They are the worst possible wast of my time. The more I see you tooting your own horn about how great your brand is, the less I think of your products.

    All advertising is, by definition, spam. Thank God for adblockers.
    sismoc
  • RE: Crowdsourcing ad relevancy: Do you care if ads are relevant to you?

    I don't use an ad-blocker, because I don't pay the slightest bit of attention to the ads. Whether on here, Facebook, nextLeft or wherever, I simply don't notice them. So they can target them at my browsing experience all they like, it's all a waste of money.
    obliquewordsmith
    • I pity the fool

      @obliquewordsmith A guy who can't block ads in his head probably hears everything his wife says.
      Robert Hahn
  • I've never seen a relevant advert.

    Seriously and truthfully I can't recall ever having purchased an item because of an advert. And that's in over 50 years. That puts me firmly in the ad-haters camp.
    peter_erskine@...
    • RE: Crowdsourcing ad relevancy: Do you care if ads are relevant to you?

      @peter_erskine@...
      The first false assumption is that advertisers qualify and target you to make your experience "more rewarding". The advertisers don't care about wasting your time and efforts in sorting through ads, although they do care (a little) about wasting their own <a href="http://www.seoweblog.net/sitemap.xml"><font color="#000000">resources</font></a>. They also firmly believe that bad exposure is better than no exposure at all, which is why we have so many misleading <a href="http://www.seoweblog.net"><font color="#000000">google</font></a> ads today. Do a search on any product, and you will get <a href="http://feeds.feedburner.com/seoindonesia"><font color="#000000">ads</font></a> from stores that do not have the <a href="http://www.feedage.com/feeds/19924595/jasa-seo-murah-indonesia"><font color="#000000">product</font></a>, never had the product, yet they knew that by lying to you in the ad, they would get you to possibly visit their <a href="http://www.feedage.com/pda/feeds.php?feed=19924592"><font color="#000000">site</font></a> which is really all they want.
      upinson
  • Do I care if ads are relevant to me?

    What does it matter what I (the websurfer and possible consumer) think? I do not generate the ads nor do I pay to have them posted. Ads are designed to distract you from what you intended on doing (reading an article on ZDNet or watching TV). What I would prefer is that they didn't exist at all; but alas, they do and I understand their reason for existing. So one might have a preference for relevant ads... but the only thing that matters is pleasing the person who pays for the ads, not the one who is distracted by them.
    NativeFloridian