Research Areas

  • Political economy of media and communications
  • Internet studies and digital media
  • Advertising and public relations
  • Media/internet policy and law

Selected Publications (please contact me for PDFs)

Crain, M. (forthcoming). Web advertising history and critical political economy. In N. Brügger, I. Milligan & M. Ankerson (Eds). The SAGE Handbook of Web History.

Crain, M. (forthcoming). The limits of transparency: Data brokers and commodification. New Media & Society.

Crain, M. (2014). Financial markets and online advertising demand: Reevaluating the dotcom investment bubble. Information, Communication, and Society, 17(3), 371-394.

Crain, M. (2009). The rise of private equity media ownership in the United States: A public interest perspective. International Journal of Communication, 3, 208-239.

Current Book Project on Surveillance Advertising:

My major research project at this time is a book tentatively titled First Watch: The Rise of Surveillance Advertising, under contract with University of Minnesota Press. The book chronicles the history of advertising on the World Wide Web, providing an origin story for the pervasive consumer monitoring that drives much of contemporary digital advertising practice. Set in the 1990s but anchored in the broader context of 20th century media development, the book draws on archival research to reveal the contested processes of technology appropriation, financial speculation, and policy-making that set the nascent Web on a course for surveillance. I argue that today’s regime of surveillance advertising stems not simply from the unassailable march of technology, but from the political choices of the dotcom era and the inertia of a media system overly dependent upon marketer patronage. From emerging concerns about privacy, discrimination, and political manipulation, we are just beginning to understand the potential social costs of surveillance-based media business models. One of my points of intervention in these debates is to highlight the political roots of digital advertising in order to underscore the necessity of political solutions.

Research and Editorial Assistance for:

Race after the Internet. Ed. Lisa Nakamura and Peter Chow-White.

The Death and Life of American Journalism. Robert W. McChesney and John Nichols.

Death Life American Journ