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If there is one big assumption underlying this whole Internet media enterprise, it's that dotted rectangle up there on the right. The thinking has long been that advertising dollars follow "eyeballs" -- that is to say people -- wherever they go. If they go to magazines, advertisers buy ads there. If they go to TV, advertisers buy ads there. And, so, logically, if they go to the Internet, advertisers will buy ads here.

But maybe they won't. Or at least, maybe they won't buy the same kinds or amounts of ads. Instead of making superexpensive ads that sit next to Christopher Hitchens columns, they'll just make their own websites and Facebook pages, promote them through social media, and leave the whole content-creation subsidy out of it.

It also seems possible that we've reached Peak Advertising. Online advertising is just so much more trackable and quantifiable than its broadcast and print counterparts. What if when advertisers see how well (or not well) their ads work, they run screaming in horror and find some other way of getting the word out about their products?

There's something poetic about this slide from MorganStanley analyst Mary Meeker, which she presented yesterday at the Web 2.0 conference. What if the space the dotted lines surround -- the "$50 billion global opportunity" -- actually defines advertising that will not come back?

Via Business Insider.

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