Investment in online marketing put in a strong showing during the economic downturn and is expected to be one of the strongest growth areas in advertising over the next two years, according to a new study.

The report by ZenithOptimedia shows internet marketing services are forecast to see their share of global ad spend rise from 12.8 per cent in 2009 to 16.5 per cent by 2012.

Looking at this year, the firm said a mid-year surge in expenditure means it has revised its 2010 growth forecast for advertising as a whole from 3.5 per cent to 4.8 per cent.

In Europe, ZenithOptimedia said the usually quiet summer period was particularly strong thanks to the football World Cup being in held in a "favourable time zone" for viewers on the continent.

The company predicted ad spend will increase by 4.5 per cent in the UK this year, above the western Europe average of three per cent but some way behind the strongest market, Belgium, which is expected to see expenditure climb by 7.4 per cent.

ZenithOptimedia's figures come after Econsultancy research showed 60 per cent of British firms planned to increase their expenditure on search engine optimisation this year, while 52 per cent intended to raise their budgets for pay per click marketing.

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