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The Internet is not just a resource for large corporations; it has created unprecedented opportunities for growth among small businesses and individual entrepreneurs.

In 2012, Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) released a study analyzing the size, scope and benefits -- social and economic -- of the ecosystem of businesses in the U.S. that owe their existence to the internet. This study was a follow up to a previous study released by the IAB in 2009. Both reports aim to quantify the role that advertising on the internet plays in helping the internet ecosystem to grow.

IAB estimated the U.S. domestic economic activity that can be attributed to the advertising-supported internet ecosystem through three methods. The first was an employment-based approach that measured the number of jobs that depend on the internet and the salaries and wages paid to these jobs. The second was a measurement of what the internet exports to the remaining economy, estimating the payments to firms for internet services. Lastly, IAB computed the amount of time spent on the internet.

Overall, the ad-supported Internet accounts for more than 5.1 million American jobs. This study found that the number of jobs that depend directly on the U.S. internet ecosystem has doubled in four years. A little less than a million new jobs were added to the million that were found in the IAB’s 2007 study. This growth greatly differs from the overall economy -  during the ‘Great Recession’ and the slow recovery, the businesses that relied on the internet were a conspicuous exception to the pattern of unemployment and business revenue stagnation.

“We have computed the number of people receiving direct salary payments for services to the Internet ecosystem at about 2.0 million.”

The changing connectivity and interaction in the internet ecosystem has transformed its role as a marketplace. This ecosystem solves numerous problems that arise with marketing and distribution in a competitive world. The internet, once just a desktop machine that connected one’s home or office to the rest of the world, is now ubiquitous, and now the opportunities are endless for technological development and new user experiences that depend on the features of constant connectivity and participation.