For as much as people seem to like Mad Men, they generally dislike advertising. That’s unfortunate, because it’s everywhere, especially on the Internet. Sites rely on ads to keep the lights on without having to charge their users. It’s not a perfect system, but it’s less jarring when those ads are for things that actually interest us. To that end, Reddit is now letting users upvote and downvote its ads.
As much as everyone complains about seeing ads on Facebook, the one thing those ads have going for them is that they’re based off a huge collection of your personal information to at least try to show you something interesting. Right now Facebook is showing me ads for a local Greek restaurant and “The Executive Hoodie.” I’d prefer no ads, but if I have to look at them, at least they’re for a restaurant I might go to and a thing I will probably buy.
Reddit doesn’t mine your info the way Facebook does, so their ads are less targeted. Still, they’d like to show you ads you might respond to because those are the ones that get clicked, and that’s how sites make money. To help them help you find things to buy on the Internet, Reddit is making their ads work the same way as their posts.
If you see an ad for something that interests you, you can upvote it, and then probably expect to see more like it. If there’s an ad that’s something not to your tastes you can tell them as much by giving that ad a thumbs down. Downvoted ads will never appear for you again, and you even have the opportunity to tell Reddit what you didn’t like about it.
More sites should adopt this policy, and they should do so right now. I just had a lengthy email exchange with Hulu customer service recently to see if there was any way I could get them to stop showing me a particularly depressing animal rights ad. They said there was nothing they could do, but if the ad was on Reddit, all I’d need to do is simple give it a thumbs down, and I’d never have to see it again.
Advertising online isn’t ideal, but it’s nice to see sites taking steps to at least make it a little more tolerable. Thumbs up, Reddit.
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