Well, not really a brief history of advertising, but a quick glance at some insights into the advertising process that I gleaned while working on my next book, The Psychological Foundations of Marketing (Routledge, due 2012).  According to research, each successive generation since the 'silent generation' (those who came of age during WWII and the Great Depression) through the 'millennial generation" (those born after 1985), when asked "what makes your generation unique" says "smarter".  We have the Internet, so we must be smarter!  But check out these early quotes on advertising - they're pretty well known in the advertising profession:

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Advertisements are now so numerous that they are very negligently perused, and it has therefore become necessary to gain attention by magnificence of promises, and by eloquence sometimes sublime and sometimes pathetic. Promise, large promise, is the soul of advertisement...” 

Source:  Samuel Johnson, 1759  ("The Art of Advertising Exemplified", The Idler (A series of essays in Universal Chronicle, #40).

The first time people look at any given ad, they don’t even see it.
The second time, they don’t notice it.
The third time, they are aware that it is there.
The fourth time, they have a fleeting sense that they’ve seen it somewhere before.
The fifth time, they actually read the ad.
The sixth time they thumb their nose at it.
The seventh time, they start to get a little irritated with it.
The eighth time, they start to think, “Here’s that confounded ad again.”
The ninth time, they start to wonder if they’re missing out on something.
The tenth time, they ask their friends and neighbors if they’ve tried it.
The eleventh time, they wonder how the company is paying for all these ads.
The twelfth time, they start to think that it must be a good product.
The thirteenth time, they start to feel the product has value.
The fourteenth time, they start to remember wanting a product exactly like this for a long time.
The fifteenth time, they start to yearn for it because they can’t afford to buy it.
The sixteenth time, they accept the fact that they will buy it sometime in the future.
The seventeenth time, they make a note to buy the product.
The eighteenth time, they curse their poverty for not allowing them to buy this terrific product.
The nineteenth time, they count their money very carefully.
The twentieth time prospects see the ad, they buy what is offering.

Source: Thomas Smith, 1985 (Successful Advertising: Its Secrets Explained)