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The International Encyclopedia of Media Studies, 7 Volume Set by Fabienne Darling-Wolf, Radhika Parameswaran, Erica Scharrer, Vicki Mayer, Sharon Mazzarella, Kelly Gates, John Nerone, Angharad N. Valdivia

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9

How Should We Think About Audience Power in the Digital Age?

Joseph Turow

ABSTRACT

This chapter emphasizes the workings of corporate power in people's core relationships to the emerging digital media system. Its aim is to provide a counterbalance to a perspective with a lot of traction among contemporary academics: that the best way to think about audiences in the new age is to emphasize that individual audience members are exercising unprecedented control over the creation and distribution of media products. Focusing on the media-buying sector of the advertising industry, this chapter outlines the contours of a new ecosystem of digital-marketing companies that buys and sells data about online users without their permission or knowledge. This ecosystem raises a new version of the concerns about media's constructions of society for society that scholars first expressed in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

This chapter emphasizes the workings of corporate power in people's core relationships to the emerging digital media system. Its aim is to provide a counterbalance to a perspective with a lot of traction among contemporary academics: that the best way to think about audiences in the new age is to emphasize that individual audience members are exercising unprecedented control over the creation and distribution of media products. My exploration here centers on a corporate arena that academics tend to ignore: the media-buying sector of the advertising industry. ...

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