The economic downturn has been cited as one reason for the "explosion" of special offers promoted by online advertisers.

Businesses have been using internet marketing to promote special offers during the economic downturn, an expert has observed.

Phil McCabe, spokesperson for the Forum of Private Businesses, explained that online advertising allows a firm to reach consumers more effectively – leading to an "explosion" of offers.

In addition to reducing costs, he noted that spreading the word about discount vouchers in this way ensures that those who will take most advantage can do so.

Mr McCabe remarked: "In recent months, given everything that has happened in the economy, there have been more offers out there that have been able to be marketed more effectively over the internet."

Last week Hitwise revealed that interest in retail discount vouchers increased significantly around the Christmas period, with searches rising by more than 140 per cent.

Growth in the number of people looking for second hand items was also recorded, while traffic to classifieds websites was found to have increased.

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