I think of advertising as "unwanted commercial messages."
The unwanted part is key. I do a lot of seeking of commercial information using the web. We all do, all the time. That's how business works on the web.
It seems to me that news orgs have to figure out how to make people come to their sites seeking commercial information. They are in the information gathering business after all. Let some of the information you seek pertain to me spending money wisely or in fun or gratifying ways.
What if I could go to my local paper to buy a house. I'm always interested in buying real estate. If they sold me a house, then they would make money from the sale. A lot more than a few cents they make off me every year for the ads I ignore.
Maybe not a house. How about Internet connectivity. Or a movie date. Someone interesting to go to a baseball game with. These are things I pay money for. I pay a lot of money to go to games. How much I enjoy it is directly proportional to who I go with. All these things involve connecting people with people. So much money to be made here. Why doesn't the news industry help me meet interesting people?
Maybe that's why Facebook makes so much money. Just sayin.
I also am always in the market for better Internet connectivity. Could the NY Times help me there? We all live in the same city. They help me find good restaurants. Maybe if they helped me find better Internet, or if they can't, because it doesn't exist, if they helped to bring us better Internet by constantly beating the drum for it, which is something they can do and seem to like doing -- that would be worth paying for. Beat the drum for new commerce, and then make it possible to buy the thing through your site?
There are honest ways to make huge money on the Internet. I think the message you're getting from your readers is that advertising is dishonest. The ads you show us net-net are junk. Jokes. Sad. Please stop this.
Maybe the more distilled message is this: Stop talking so much. Listen.
There's a follow-up to this post.