Yes, there was an apparent golden age of print advertising:
(Although the nostalgia may add to our appreciation of these.)
Ads work better in print for the reasons you state, and I’d like to explore them in a post. There’s something about intrusion, control and even etiquette – inserting an ad into a web page is just plain rude (especially on a mobile), but is generally OK in a newspaper.
There have been online attempts to make less rude, “tasteful” advertising, but these have failed. The Deck was a kind of artisinal advertising network for trendy sites.
Jeremy’s idea for contextual advertising is more ethical than surveillance advertising (and is basically how Google search ads work, I think), but you still have the problem of inserting ads somewhere on a web page without annoying the reader, or misleading them by not displaying them as adverts. I know Google makes zillions of dollars a year from search ads, but I’m not really convinced they actually work that well.
Maybe in an ideal world the only online advertising we’d have is the up front, classified site such as Craigslist. But I think that only really works when you have a very specific requirement (I need to find a plumber, a second hand sofa etc.) You wouldn’t get Nike advertising on Craigslist.
In a way, the web itself is one huge advertising network…
So how would Nike advertise its trainers online? I guess advertising could have moved from the product supplier to the user, via review sites, blogs and social media, or to high profile users. Get someone like Ronaldo to do something on Instagram. (My idea for a post begins to breakdown here 😃).