A path ads could take that seems like it would both be more ethical and more profitable, yet I don't see happening: actually get direct consumer feedback!
I like the concept of targeted ads showing me things I enjoy and am interested in, but empirically, they're not very good at it! Maybe it's because I use an adblocker most of the time, but even on my phone, ads are reliably uninteresting to me, and I think the fraction that I click on or update positively towards the company from must be far below 1%.* So why don't advertisers have an option for me to say "this ad is unappealing to me and I will never click on it, please show me ads related to the following keywords"? This seems like useful information which many customers will be happy to provide, and should improve everyone's utility. What's stopping things?
Even if the returns from this kind of strategy were uncertain, or only worked on a few people, it still seems like it'd be worth trying, given that advertisers must know by now that I never click on the things - it's not like I can make them any less money if they screw it up.
I don't know if this relates to the ethics of working on advertising in its current state, but it's something that would ameliorate most of my ethical concerns with ads, and which I would expect to be a net benefit to all involved. Does anyone working in advertising know why this isn't standard?
*In fact, the only times I can recall having clicked on ads are from Twitter, where I do have a limited ability to veto bad ads (by blocking the relevant account) - after a few thousand blocks of the most popular companies, I finally got to some things I found interesting and useful (but which Twitter would never have shown me normally).
You could pick many plausible metrics (number of matches, number of replies to messages, number of dates, number of longterm relationships) but it seems unlikely that any of them aren't impacted positively for most people in the online dating market by having better photos. Do you have reason to think that two reasonable metrics of success would affect the questions raised in this post differently?