I couldn’t resist posting this unintentionally funny screen shot, but I don’t think there’s anything inherently bad about advertising, online or otherwise. Done well, it adds value for advertisers, publishers and readers alike. But it has to be done well if it is not to subtract value for the reader. (If it subtracts value for the advertiser or publisher it never gets published.) A lot of online advertising is still of the intrusive popup type, and pretending that it’s “context sensitive” because it’s linked to unrelated, vaguely related or overly general keywords doesn’t transform it into something valuable for readers. The best context-sensitive ads I’ve seen are in a hobby forum that serves its own ads and makes it easy for advertisers to select keywords that readers will find interesting enough to click on. Those are ads that you want to see if you are interested in the topic of a discussion. By contrast, the typical served-by-third-parties popup, like the one shown above, is nothing more than an irritant unless it happens to deliver a relevant message by chance.