There is nothing bogus about the reality that the Internet is the most addictive medium after television for a large proportion of the 160 million users of the medium in the United States. As a loyal subscriber of The New Yorker, I empathize with the attachment many have with the magazine, but two facts and an anecdote underline the passion that millions have for the Web.
First, according to SRI Mediascan—a research service—the average adult 25-54 spent 7.7 hours per week with the Internet versus 1.6 hours reading magazines in spring 2002. Second, teenagers repeatedly say they will give up food rather than the Internet.
The anecdote comes from my younger daughter who, on reading your comment observed, "Dad, doesn't this lady realize that she can go to NewYorker.com and read some New Yorker articles if she misses her New Yorker, but she can't connect with the world if she had the magazine but no Internet?" (Yes, I know The New Yorker site has only a sampling of articles but you get the point.)
I do disagree with your assertions disparaging the Internet as a "push" medium and suggesting the increasing usage of the Web is due to the difficulties of mastering the medium rather than its increasing usefulness and capabilities.
There is already a wider spectrum of Internet advertising opportunities than in most other mediums. A minority of such advertising—spam and pop-ups—are of the push variety. And this unfortunately is prevalent enough to create a backlash against Web advertising. Hopefully, reduced use of pop-ups and better e-mail filtering software should reduce these forms of advertising. (Interestingly, the reason you see so much of these annoying ad types is that they deliver results.) But a majority of online advertising is pull oriented because the medium is a pull medium. You go to the content versus the content coming to you. From sponsorships to surround sessions to online gaming and commercially sponsored utilities, you, the consumer, decide which sites and applications to go to among a plethora of choices that make even a 500-channel universe seem puny. You decide whether to click, interact, or read an ad. You follow your passions. You interact with programming and content when you want to. You search archives and switch between choices that span the world. You are in control more than in any other medium. You do not have to channel-skip or station-hop to avoid commercials. In fact, as personal video recorders and video on demand give control of television to the viewer versus the distributor, the biggest push medium of all (television) will soon become a pull medium, and many executives are beside themselves just thinking about a consumer-controlled world! Interestingly, the answers on how to do this are clear. Be relevant. Offer value. Recognize consumer control. Be like the Internet.
Your second assertion that the reason hours spent using the Internet are increasing is because it is difficult is also one I disagree with. No doubt there are quite a few folks who find the Internet initially hard to use, but every single piece of research indicates that the more one is experienced with the Internet, the greater the proportion of time and tasks conducted on the web. In fact, since the 18 percent of U.S. homes with broadband access consume more than 50 percent of all page views, it suggests that the faster and easier the Internet becomes the more people use it.
Finally, while I agree that many of the success stories in leveraging the Internet will fuse other media with the Internet, it does highlight the reality that the Internet has become an important part of the media mix and therefore an important ad medium.
Call it convergent media or fused media or Internet advertising or whatever you may:
Internet advertising is growing bigger by the day.