Mobile Marketing on Pace to Surpass $400 Billion in U.S. by 2015

If you still think mobile marketing is a hobby, consider this: it contributed $139 billion to the U.S. economy and created 524,000 jobs last year. Does that sound like an area that belongs under “experimental” or “emerging” marketing budgets?

The Mobile Marketing Association certainly doesn’t think so, and now it has a dense 124-page research paper to back up the industry it has served as an evangelist for since 2000. The mobile marketing ecosystem is projected to generate more than $400 billion to the U.S. economy by 2015, representing an annual growth rate of 52.5 percent, according to the new “MMA Mobile Marketing Economic Impact Study.”

Greg Stuart, chief executive of MMA, notes that $400 billion is almost the size of the current gross domestic product of Argentina or Austria and would surpass the current GDP of Thailand.

Mobile is also projected to generate 1.4 million jobs across the country by 2015, according to the report. The marketers and retailers that are driving this growth spent a collective $6.7 billion on mobile marketing in 2012 and that number is projected to increase to $19.8 billion by 2015.

The study commissioned by MMA also sought to determine the effectiveness of mobile marketing spend based on its impact on mobile sales. The marketing impact ratio, or overall return on every dollar that a marketer invests in the business, peaked at $20.77 in 2012. The lead researchers were also surprised to report that mobile marketing has yet to experience the law of diminishing returns.

“When they look at that data across different sectors…there appears to be no diminishing returns,” Stuart tells ClickZ. “It’s like the law of gravity, you don’t ever get to avoid diminishing returns.” Despite that controversial concept, he emphasizes that marketers have a unique opportunity to invest in an ecosystem that is not conforming to traditional economic models or rules.

Data from the top four mobile marketing spenders indicates that increased spend across mobile marketing platforms does not increase the impact rate and that marketers who spend more on mobile achieved the highest impact ratio overall.

Mobile marketing spend was also organized by industry categories including mobile advertising, mobile direct response or enhanced traditional media, and mobile CRM. Mobile advertising gained a lead over CRM last year and is projected to further distance itself at a compound annual growth rate of 56.2 percent through 2015. Mobile advertising spend will more than triple from $3.06 billion in 2012 to more than $9.2 billion in 2015, according to the report.

Mobile direct response spending is growing at a compound annual growth rate of 77.4 percent, representing the fastest growing category in mobile. Investment in direct response is expected to reach $1.3 billion this year and surpass $2.9 billion by 2015.

While mobile CRM expenditures are growing at the slowest compound annual growth rate of 43.8 percent, the category remains incredibly steady with projections for it to clear nearly $7.7 billion by 2015.

The study also concluded that finance, retail (excluding CPG), and manufacturing (excluding CPG) were the three largest industries for mobile marketing spend. Measuring investments in mobile across 16 industry groups, the three mobile stalwarts contributed $3 billion or nearly half of the total amount of investment in mobile marketing in 2012. The report also found that the largest markets for mobile employment are being driven by the industries that spend more on mobile marketing and advertising.

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