In stark contrast to its Western counterparts, the Russian ad industry is booming, judging by new adspend totals released by the Russian Advertising Agencies Association.

A total of $2.68 billion (€2.47bn; £1.63bn) was spent on ads last year, a massive 51% leap on the 2001 total, making Russia the fastest-growing advertising market in the world. The best-performing medium was television, where ad revenues rocketed 76% to $900 million.

By way of comparison, US adspend edged up only 1.3% last year according to Zenith Optimedia, while it fell by 1% in Britain and France and by 5% in Germany.

With election campaigns due in 2003, Russia's growth shows no signs of stopping, the RAAA predicting a 50% surge to $4bn this year (though Zenith forecasts a slightly more modest 41% jump).

The Russian economy performed well in 2002, growing 4% thanks to the rising price of oil. Consumer spending is up, and advertisers are scrambling to take advantage.

Moreover, big-budget advertising is increasingly the domain of domestic firms as well as multinationals. Over 60% of total spend came from Russian companies last year.

However, in relative terms the nation’s ad market has some way to go – total advertising expenditure represents only around $19 per capita, well below the $500 spent in the US. Said Zenith analyst Jonathan Barnard: “Ad spending is only 0.6% of [gross domestic product] – about half of what you'd expect in a developed industrial country.”

Data sourced from: The Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff