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While the dotcom period is often dismissed as a false start in the history of the web’s commercial development, it is better conceived of as highly generative of modern structures of online advertising. Soaring investment markets and the developing online advertising sector entered into a pattern of mutual reinforcement that began in 1995 and intensified until the bubble collapsed in 2000, transforming the character of the web in the process. This article sketches the contours of this generative capacity, focusing on the production of demand for online advertising services. Taking the approach of critical political economy, this narrative is contextualized as an outgrowth of broader social trends, namely the increased importance and interconnection of marketing communications, media technologies, and finance within a changing capitalism.



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