SANTIAGO: Latin America had the fastest-growing online population of any global region during the past year, fuelling a rise in e-commerce and digital advertising, new research has said.

A report, 2013 Latin America Digital Future in Focus, from comScore, the digital measurement and analytics company, examined Mexico, Argentina, Brazil and Chile and identified prevailing trends in web usage, online video, mobile and online advertising.

It found that the number of internet users had increased 12% to more than 147m unique visitors in March 2013.

Online shopping grew even faster, with the total number of online shoppers rising 16%. Walmart, in particular, showed the greatest gains among the most-visited retail websites, as the number of visitors leapt 163% to 11.7m.

With internet use and e-commerce both expanding, online advertising is following suit and almost doubled over a 12-month period in Brazil.

There were 130bn display ad impressions delivered in March 2013, a 97% rise over the year, said the report. Netflix, the TV and movie streaming site, accounted for 2.7bn of these, making it the largest display advertiser in that country.

Online video content was especially popular in Argentina, where more than 95% of the country's internet population viewed such material during March 2013.

Overall, consumers in Latin America spent ten hours online per month on social networking sites, doubling the global average time spent. Five of the top ten most engaged markets with social content worldwide are located in Latin America, according to comScore.

Earlier this year, social media platforms were noted to be heightening their focus on Brazil, which was, for Facebook, the second largest market behind the US. Alexandre Hohagen, vice president of Facebook's Latin American arm, also said then that ecommerce habits in that country were developing rapidly.

As in other markets, mobile devices account for a growing amount of digital traffic. Across the four countries examined, Mexico led the region with 13.9% of all web-based page views consumed beyond the personal computer, mostly on smartphones and tablets.

Data sourced from comScore; additional content by Warc staff