Perhaps Amex should be bolder and add a dislike button to their offers. In this way they can get immediate feedback, from those willing to play along, on what their target feels is interesting. Presumably, if they have us targeted correctly we'd be taking them up on some of the offers but this feedback is slow compared to a like/dislike button. For instance, I may like an offer but not act on it and may not even click the button, so the advertiser gets no feedback what-so-ever. Conversely, if I "dislike" or am not interested in the offer, wouldn't the advertiser want this information to better improve their offer and or targeting? For the user this would help deliver more meaningful offers so the benefit would be built into the action. This might feel like a harsh step in the "everything is beautiful world" of the social web but we need more efficiency and less waste as marketers, and as users our time on-line needs to deliver an experience that is ever more relevant from advertisers, otherwise all these schemes will start to feel like nothing more than a billboard cluttering the highway waiting for the right person to drive by and take notice.
Like and dislike buttons would allow marketers to aggregate to relevant buckets and attribute them to specific user group profiles of "friends." These friends might not really be friends to Edwards point but they would be united in a friendship based, at least theoretically, on a progressively more filtered set of interests. Facebook allows you to give feedback on what ads are relevant, I'm not sure how many people take the time to do it, but it's possible, even though time consuming. The like/dislike button would help make short work of the sorting. Perhaps a better voting scheme would be interested/disinterested or some other more pithy wording. Of course it will take a sophisticated marketer to make the most of this feature, someone willing to really work the data and do split testing across audiences and offers but I do believe it would be worth the effort. So possibly somewhere between the likes and dislikes there emerges a better senses of the "wants."
There is probably a better answer to all this and someone smarter than me will figure it out. Maybe it will be Circles, it feels like it could be. As a user, and really I just started, Circles relevance to marketers will only be as good as the governance of my circles. Just like Edward I've got so many friends on Facebook, at least for me, it has sort of taken on a life of its own.