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Does Facebook really need users to tell them that the ads suck?

Imagine being able to give online ads the thumbs down (or up), a feature that social networking site Facebook has reportedly begun rolling out.
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Written by Steve O'Hear on

These days Internet users get to vote on anything and everything -- news, people, startups etc. - so why not advertising?

Imagine being able to give online ads the thumbs down (or up), a feature that social networking site Facebook has reportedly begun rolling out. I say reportedly because, as is common with new features on Facebook, the site appears to be offering the new functionality to select users only -- and I'm not one of them -- perhaps before rolling it out site-wide.

Presented with a 'stumble upon'-style thumbs up and thumbs down, users are asked to vote on how effective each advert is. If a user chooses to click and vote, they are then asked to give feedback in the form of a multiple answer quiz. For a thumbs up they're offered “Interesting”, “Relevant to Me” and “Good Offer”, and for a thumbs down choices include “Misleading”, “Offensive”, “Pornographic” and "Irrelevant".

From even a quick glance at the site and it's obvious that most ads on Facebook are poorly targeted, often consisting of spammy type campaigns for dating sites and places where you can "find hot women", or a new credit card. It doesn't need anything as elaborate as a user voting system to work that one out.

Also see: Can AOL solve the UGC and advertising problem?

However, the idea of soliciting advertising feedback from users isn't a bad one in itself. Not just to find out if a campaign is badly received or ineffective in general (click-through rates can tell you that) but to build up better personalization / targeting by building up a marketing profile of each user. If my voting on ads ultimately delivers me more relevant campaigns then that's not a bad thing, presuming I have to put up with ads in the first place. Of course, this also adds to Facebook's privacy concerns: more data stored and aggregated, linked to my account.

Related: Report: MySpace turning News Corp. stock toxic; advertisers shy of UGC

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