Mobile Marketing Adds $139B to U.S. Economy in 2012; Set to Rise to $400B by 2015


NEW YORK, May 9, 2013 (ADOTAS) — The mobile marketing ecosystem generated $139 billion of incremental output to the U.S. economy in 2012, a significant surge from $48 billion in net sales previously reported in 2010. Over the next five years, this figure is set to skyrocket to $400 billion representing an annual growth rate of 52 per cent. To accurately assess mobile’s economic impact, both consumer (B2C) and business (B2B) mobile sales were measured against total U.S. sales in 2012, approximately $33 trillion. The data was reported in the “MMA Mobile Marketing Economic Impact Study,” commissioned by the Mobile Marketing Association (MMA), the leading global trade association for the mobile marketing industry.

“MMA Mobile Marketing Economic Impact Study” is the first objective and comprehensive overview of U.S. economic performance across the mobile marketing industry. Research was conducted by Peter A. Johnson, Ph.D., and Joseph Plummer, Ph.D., of mLightenment and unveiled today at the MMA New York Forum.

Key findings from the report indicate that mobile is an economic engine that will continue to stimulate nationwide growth as a vibrant and lucrative platform. To illustrate mobile’s influence on the U.S. business and marketing landscape, five core categories were identified from the data, including:

  • Mobile’s Sales Impact on the U.S. Economy
  • Employment Generated Via Mobile
  • Expenditure or Spend on Mobile Marketing
  • Marketing Impact Ratio
  • Balancing Customer Knowledge and Privacy Concerns in Mobile

“Results from this study prove that mobile should not be underestimated as an economic stimulator. Only a few years ago, mobile’s impact was measured by its function as a basic phone and now it is impossible to envision a world without smartphones and tablets,” said Greg Stuart, CEO, Mobile Marketing Association. “The health of the U.S. economy depends on platforms like mobile that offer unlimited potential for growth and innovation. No other media will evolve at this pace with unforeseen opportunities to reimagine the user experience.”

Despite a recessionary economy and unstable job market, mobile marketing created 524,000 jobs in 2012 from the combination of advertiser employment as well as product seller employment. Focusing on the next five years, mobile is predicted to generate 1.4 million jobs.

To drill down into mobile’s potential on the marketing ecosystem, mobile marketing spend was measured by industry category. In 2012, marketers and retailers spent $6.7 billion on mobile marketing. The total expenditure for mobile marketing was calculated from mobile advertising, mobile direct response or enhanced traditional media, as well as mobile CRM. Combined spend across the three categories is forecasted to increase to $19.8 billion by 2015. Mobile advertising alone (includes voice, messaging, web, email, apps proximity and recognition) is projected to climb to $9.2 billion over the next five years.

The study evaluated mobile marketing expenditure across 16 industry groups. Finance, retail (excluding CPG) and manufacturing (excluding CPG) were the three largest industries, resulting in $3 billion or roughly half of the total mobile expenditure in 2012. Surprisingly, the industries that spent more on mobile marketing and advertising also represent the largest markets for mobile employment.

“Even in its infancy, mobile has irrevocably transformed society,” said Peter A. Johnson, Ph.D., mLightenment. “With the introduction of new technology to increased accessibility and connectivity, mobile has the ability to reinvent itself and remain indispensable to the consumer and marketer relationship.”

To further demonstrate mobile’s effectiveness as a marketing communications tool, Marketing Impact Ratio (MIR) was calculated by measuring mobile sales impact against marketing expenditure. In 2012, mobile MIR peaked at $20.77. After reviewing MIR data, an unexpected insight was raised; mobile marketing has yet to experience the law of diminishing returns. By reviewing MIR figures for the top four mobile marketing spenders, data indicated that spending more across mobile marketing platforms does not decrease the impact rate. In fact, those that spend more on mobile achieved the highest impact ratio and thus gained the most value for their mobile marketing investment. While this observation requires additional exploration, it has the potential to further distinguish mobile from other media.

Looking beyond the numbers, insights from the “MMA Mobile Marketing Economic Impact Study” clearly indicate that mobile has sparked a “mobile-enhanced economy” in which mobile converts every object into a medium and every place into an opportunity for a message. By empowering the “always on, always on the go” consumer, mobile has transformed people into interactive, creative, and responsive partners in the marketing process.

“While mobile’s economic value is the heart of this study, mobile is also inspiring the industry to rethink their discipline for a world that is no longer static,” said Joseph Plummer, Ph.D., mLightenment. “As people rely more on mobile devices, they will become ‘co-creators’ in the marketing process and control both the context and content of the overall brand experience.”

It would be impossible to evaluate mobile’s economic impact without addressing privacy and the current legislative climate. In recent debates, government authorities have discussed restricting or limiting the trail of information that mobile offers to marketers and publishers. The MMA  supports self-regulation and transparent communication to consumers about when and how mobile data is collected. There is a risk of overregulating the mobile marketing industry and stifling innovation if some measures being considered go into effect. In order for mobile sales, employee resources and marketing spend to continue to grow, as the “MMA Mobile Marketing Economic Impact Study” strongly suggests, mobile marketing needs room to evolve responsibly and foster innovation without undue constraint from legislators, regulators or private sector bodies.

Mobile’s influence extends far beyond the device. It is a catalyst supplementing the growth and revenue across all other mediums, traditional and digital,” said Stuart. “Currently, mobile is at a tipping point. It is not just how big mobile is and will continue to be, but it has triggered a ‘mobile-enhanced economy’ that redefines the entire marketing industry. Restricting its development by overregulating the industry would cause irreparable damage and thus reverse progress.”

Google, mBlox, The Coca-Cola Company, ExactTarget and Target assisted by underwriting the research for the “MMA Mobile Marketing Economic Impact Study.”

To access the MMA Mobile Marketing Economic Impact Study, click here.


“MMA Mobile Marketing Economic Impact Study” measures both the size of mobile marketing spending in the U.S. as well as its resulting impact on sales and employment. Mobile marketing’s economic impact was calculated by classifying the US economy into 16 industry groups based on the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS). From there, an econometric model was applied that compared these industries’ rates of expenditure on three major categories of mobile marketing across prominent mobile channels with their rates of investment. All these investments were then correlated with the rate of sales growth achieved by each industry to determine the share of each industry’s total sales and employment attributable to each category of investment, particularly mobile marketing.

About the Mobile Marketing Association (MMA)

The Mobile Marketing Association (MMA) is the premier global non-profit trade association established to lead the growth of mobile marketing and its associated technologies. The MMA is an action-oriented organization designed to clear obstacles to market development, establish mobile media guidelines and best practices for sustainable growth, and evangelize the use of the mobile channel. The more than 700 member companies, representing nearly fifty countries around the globe, include all members of the mobile media ecosystem. The Mobile Marketing Association’s global headquarters are located in the United States and it has regional chapters including North America (NA), Europe (EUR), Latin American (LATAM) and Asia Pacific (APAC) branches. For more information, please visit For information relating to the MMA’s Mobile Marketing Forum series, please visit


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