Marketing, Other Intangibles, and Output Growth in 61 United States Industries (PDF)

Experts in the System of National Accounts (SNA) recently considered whether marketing could be included as a capital asset in the national accounts and later recommended that marketing should be an intangible in the 2025 SNA (IMF, 2022; IMF, 2023). This paper contributes to that discussion by developing macroeconomic measures of marketing investments and stocks for the United States. We also construct and analyze measures of how marketing and other intangibles contribute to output growth in the 61 industries that comprise the U.S. private business sector.

We find that marketing contributes approximately as much to output growth as software and R&D (research and development) do. From 1987 to 2020, our preferred estimates of the annual contribution to output growth are 0.15 percentage point for R&D, 0.19 for software, and 0.18 for marketing. Software grows more rapidly, whereas marketing has a larger factor share. Marketing contributes even more to output if quality is adjusted to allow for better targeting associated with digital advertising. There is a close relationship between data flows, software, and digital marketing, and national accountants must allocate expenditures among these categories.

Background Data

Leo Sveikauskas , Rachel Soloveichik , Corby Garner , Peter B. Meyer , James Bessen , and Mathew Russell

JEL Code(s) M31 M37 Published