Research

My Google Scholar profile contains most of my peer reviewed research publications.

Research Areas

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

Profit Over Privacy: How Surveillance Advertising Conquered the Internet (2021)

From University of Minnesota Press:

The first institutional and political history of internet advertising, Profit over Privacy uses the 1990s as its backdrop to show how the massive data-collection infrastructure that undergirds the internet today is the result of twenty-five years of technical and political economic engineering. Crain considers the social causes and consequences of the internet’s rapid embrace of consumer monitoring, detailing how advertisers and marketers adapted to the existential threat of the internet and marshaled venture capital to develop the now-ubiquitous business model called “surveillance advertising.” He draws on a range of primary resources from government, industry, and the press and highlights the political roots of internet advertising to underscore the necessity of political solutions to reign in unaccountable commercial surveillance.

The dominant business model on the internet, surveillance advertising is the result of political choices—not the inevitable march of technology. Unlike many other countries, the United States has no internet privacy law. A fascinating prehistory of internet advertising giants like Google and Facebook, Profit over Privacy argues that the internet did not have to turn out this way and that it can be remade into something better.

Selected Publications (please contact me for PDFs)

Crain, M. (2019). Web advertising history and critical political economy. In N. Brügger, I. Milligan & M. Ankerson (Eds). The SAGE Handbook of Web History.

Crain, M. (2018). 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.

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