A Critical Political Economy of Web Advertising History
Using the United States as a case study, this chapter outlines the history of web advertising from a critical political economy of media approach. As part of the broader privatization of the internet in the 1990s, U.S. policy-makers sought to position American businesses at the forefront of the web’s global commercial expansion and embraced a hands-off regulatory approach to web advertising. Free from regulatory constraints, digital advertising companies brought web advertising into the mainstream by developing capacities for user data collection and targeted messaging. U.S.-based companies have since found enormous success in pushing the technical and political boundaries of data-driven advertising, which now sits at the center of the global digital media economy. Critical political economy of media provides valuable insights into the structural dimensions of this history.