Advertising is ultimately a good thing.
What?! What is this heresy I speak? Yes, I did say that and yes, I do believe that.
Sure, at its worst, it's extremely annoying and rather intrusive. And these days, I do believe the whole thing's gotten a bit out of hand; the day we started attempting to sell things to people just trying to use the restroom in the train station is the day we crossed into the absurd.
To that end, I have a couple of notes to the advertisers, starting with the aforementioned potty ads:
1) We're focused on getting in and out of there. We're not paying attention to that ad for ... whatever it is you're trying to sell. A captive audience does not necessarily equal a receptive audience. In fact, do you really want to associate your product or service with the act of going to the bathroom?
2) I need to put something in here about heavy use of flash in online ads - are you trying to annoy us? You see, aside from the repetitive, seizure-inducing boxes all over my screen, you are eating my CPU cycles for breakfast. This makes me unhappy. Again, do you really want to associate your product or service with my being annoyed?
Now, those things having been said, advertising can provide a valuable service, both for the product or service being advertised, as well as the consumer to whom it is directed. When accomplished well - and the two examples above are simply bad execution, and not demonstrative of "Advertising is inherently Bad" - advertising is useful communication. The public can learn about new (or old) products and services in which they may be interested.
And if the media buyer is good, these products and services can be well-targeted to reach people who may be interested in them. Some people find this troubling, this being a "target audience." Why? Don't you like learning about products or services which your peers find appealing or useful? What's so terrible about that?
I daresay those people, as do I in some cases, likely have a problem with the execution of advertising. Our generation has been bombarded from every angle with ads since we were babes. Clever is not so clever, shiny not so shiny anymore. If someone is trying to "communicate" with you by continually bouncing around in your face while yelling silly rhymes, it's not long before you pull out a book and put in earplugs, assuming the person is a nitwit, having nothing interesting to say.
Advertisers, try something new. Perhaps try going back to the days of Ogilvy when Copy was King, the days when an ad ... wait for it ... explained a product, what it was used for, what made it special, the value proposition. Since advertising is communication, communicate with us. We're getting tired of the bouncing, yelling nitwit.