In fact the ad-supported Web network contributed $530 billion to the U.S. economy last year, nearly double 2007 figures, the Harvard University Business School found in a recent study commissioned by the Interactive Advertising Bureau. That dollar amount is 3.7 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product, rising from 2.1 percent four years ago.
“One of the most striking findings of this report is that growth was fast in the consumer-facing layer, but that it was even faster in the less glamorous infrastructure layer that supports the high-profile brand name sites and services,” said John Deighton, Harold M. Brierley professor of business administration at Harvard Business School. Deighton authored the report with Leora Kornfeld, research associate at Harvard Business School.
“Jobs grew fastest in digital advertising agencies, ad networks, ad exchanges, customer analytics firms and listening platforms,” Deighton added. “The engine of growth was not just consumer-facing companies like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, but also firms that used the data spun off by them.”
The ad-supported Internet industry directly employs 2 million people, and indirectly employs 3.1 million in other sectors.
The study found New York and California are home to the most Web firms. Washington, Massachusetts and Illinois round out the top five.
Self-employed businesspeople and small firms contributed 375,000 full-time jobs to the economy last year.