Spending on internet-based marketing is set to overtake budgets for print ads for the first time ever in 2010, a new report has shown.

A survey of more than 1,000 US marketing professionals by publishing research specialist Outsell found that investment in digital strategies such as search engine marketing and webinars is expected to top $119.6 billion (£79.8 billion) this year, compared to $111.5 billion for magazine and newspaper campaigns.

Furthermore, marketers rated their own website as the best tool for generating business-to-business return on investment, ahead of conferences, exhibitions and email marketing.

Another 51 per cent of respondents said they found Facebook an extremely or somewhat useful tool for online marketing.

Outsell vice-president and lead analyst Chuck Richard believes the results show a "widening of options" for companies looking to boost their profile as they emerge from recession.

"Advertisers are directing dollars towards the channels which generate the most qualified leads and most effective branding," he said.

Overall digital marketing budgets are set to increase by 17 per cent in 2010, according to recent research by Econsultancy and ExactTarget.

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