Search engine marketing and online advertising is set to double over the next five years, according to a new report.

The survey conducted by Forrester Research estimated that by 2012 up to £10.8 billion could be being spent every year on internet marketing, a figure more than double the current rate of £5.1 billion.

The research points to the increasing number of businesses investing in online campaigns and the growth of social networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook as highlighting the need for companies to have an online presence.

Forrester Research’s senior analyst, Rebecca Jennings, said that soon the movement of interactive marketing into the mainstream will force organisations and processes to change.

"As different types of social media like MySpace and peer reviews strengthen their grip on users, expect marketers to jump on the bandwagon by switching ad spend to social media forms like RSS, blogs, and networks," she said.

Rand Fishkin, chief executive of search engine optimization company SEOmoz recently addressed the importance of social networking sites in his blog, stating that the industry was increasingly using the sites to improve traffic.

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