Online ads have assaulted users for the last time. But what kind of Internet is it creating?

The web has created a “free” mentality, which has driven site owners to rely on banner ads for revenue for much of the Internet's history. Online advertising has since evolved into an enterprise based on creeping on users. Cookies keep tabs (read: stalk) users as they browse across the web, allowing companies to make grabs for personal information when it's given. However, tools allowing users to disable JavaScript and block ads are creating a new conversation about how advertisers should engage with users.

The Internet has always presented many opportunities for advertising, which can be very much trial and error, says blogger Jason Kottke.

There have been attempts in the past to gently change the state of Internet advertising. The “Do Not Track” browser function was a first attempt at having a dialogue with companies. It was a way to notify businesses some users would rather not be tracked (please and thank you). However, the request fell on deaf ears — nothing changed. Since then, more efficient tools have been developed allowing users to block information-accessing scripts altogether.

Doc Searls says in an article for MIT Technology Review that 47 percent of people in the United States reported in a recent survey that they “regularly use ad-blocking software.” Apple supports “content blocking” on its devices. And other pieces of software, like the Tor browser, allow users to automatically disable JavaScript on websites — halting ads from loading. The lack of ads or pop-up windows really makes the web-browsing experience much smoother and cleaner. But best of all, these tools make it so advertisers can't track users.

People are sensitive about their information, and they should be — it's personal. Americans don't want their personal information sold, traded, and misused.

Recent ad-blocking software has empowered users, giving them some leverage to be the changes they want to see in the industry. The trading of information should be a negotiation, not a business based in stalking.

So how should the future of advertising look? Searls suggests intentcasting. Learn what he means in this video:

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Natalie has been writing professionally for about 6 years. After graduating from Ithaca College with a degree in Feature Writing, she snagged a job at PCMag.com where she had the opportunity to review all the latest consumer gadgets. Since then she has become a writer for hire, freelancing for various websites. In her spare time, you may find her riding her motorcycle, reading YA novels, hiking, or playing video games. Follow her on Twitter: @nat_schumaker

Photo Credit: Pascale PirateChickan/Flickr