Google pegs its economic impact at $80 billion, up 25 percent

In new report, company says its benefits to businesses, Web site publishers, and nonprofits are rising rapidly.

Casey Newton Former Senior Writer
Casey Newton writes about Google for CNET, which he joined in 2012 after covering technology for the San Francisco Chronicle. He is really quite tall.
Casey Newton
2 min read
Screen shot by Casey Newton/CNET

Google said Monday that it generated $80 billion for American businesses, Web site publishers, and nonprofits in 2011, up 25 percent from 2010.

In a report published to its Economic Impact page, the company estimated the benefits to its advertisers and partners using three measurements: revenue received from AdWords on Google.com search results in 2011; dollars paid to AdSense partners; and in-kind donations made to nonprofits through its Google Grants program.

The company breaks down the impact for each state using nifty HTML5 animations accompanied by fun facts -- California received $20 billion in activity for some 320,000 businesses, Google said, or enough to buy every Californian a surfboard.

Google said the $80 billion estimate is conservative. It omits the cost savings for consumers who find what they're looking for more easily than before, for example. It also does not include the impact of Google employees' own spending, or the impact of Google products like Maps and YouTube.

For more on Google's methodology, check out the company's full explanation here.

At a time when Google faces intense regulatory scrutiny in Washington and beyond, the report feels like a well-timed component of a broader public-relations campaign. But it also gives the search giant real data to point to as it makes its case that Google products enrich the country at large. And it could persuade more advertisers to sign up.

The report marked the third time Google has released an estimate of its economic activity. To see company's reports from earlier years, here are PDFs from 2009 and 2010.