Bill C. sent me this link a few weeks ago and I've meaning to blog about it. Go check it out.
I think he's got some good points there, specifically as to what advertising is when you boil it all away. It's an interruption wanting to sell us one thing when we're in the middle of doing something else. This is true. When you go to Needcoffee, there's a better than average chance you're probably not wanting to see an ad for singles dating service. So there's been a huge mismatch between what might be relevant for you to see vs. what you're actually seeing. I think this happens better online than it does in the real world–in "real life," I would constantly be amazed at the offers I'd receive via snail mail. For example, a special deal on replacing the siding on my house–while I was living in an apartment. It just takes a little bit of checking to know that my address was an apartment at the time–and yet here I was getting mail about an offer I simply could not use.
The internet knows where you are just by your IP, so I'm assuming you're not seeing the same ads I am in some instances. But still, it's not working the way it should. So while I agree with some of the author's ideas in that article, I think the answers are a little simpler and less advertisageddonish.