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Sell Alphabet on future 'search apocalypse': Analyst

The Google Inc. logo hangs illuminated at the company's exhibition stand at the Dmexco digital marketing conference in Cologne, Germany.
Krisztian Bocsi | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Wedbush's James Dix, one of Wall Street's top analysts, lowered his rating on Alphabet to underperform from neutral, predicting a large scale transition to attention-based paid advertising from traditional web search ads.

"The Four Horsemen of the Search Apocalypse: self-identified consumers, consumer control of IP-delivered ads, payments innovation, and attention markets," Dix wrote in a note to clients Tuesday.

"Digitizing commerce and advertising is easing targeting of self-identified consumers and consumer control of IP-delivered ads, and thus user-priced attention gateways. To target the market of people in the market, conditioning 'paid attention' on purchase could often substitute for search advertising."

The analyst gave examples of paid attention-based marketing such as an auto dealer paying consumers for a test drive and an insurance company paying prospects for a phone conversation.

Dix's picks have a 14.4 percent one-year average return with a 63 percent success rate, according to analyst ranking service TipRanks, placing him in the top 9 percent of all Wall Street analysts covering any industry.