BRUSSELS: Online advertising expenditure has overtaken newspapers to become the second largest media category in Europe, a new study has shown.

IAB Europe, the digital trade body, collated advertising spend across twenty-six markets for its AdEx Benchmark study and found that online expenditure had grown 11.5% in 2012 to reach €24.3bn, this "despite the toughest economic climate for the broader advertising market since 2009".

Consequently, online spend has passed newspaper advertising investment (€19.3bn) and is closing on television (€28.1bn). It now attracts one in every four advertising euros – at 25.6% of total advertising spend, its share has more than doubled since 2006 when it stood at 10.3%.

"Growth has continued at an impressive rate especially when compared with the overall economy," said Kimon Zorbas, CEO of IAB Europe, as he remarked on the strength of the sector.

"Even more remarkable is the increase in CEE markets, which indicates their exciting potential," he added.

Russia was one of the fastest growing markets, up 34% to €1.54bn, and Les Echos noted that it could soon overtake France, currently the third largest market, up 6.3% to €2.77bn. The UK (€6.64bn) and Germany (€4.56bn) were the largest markets, growing at 13.3% and 8.6% respectively.

The study also showed that sponsored links dominated the market, with a 48.8% share. Display (banners and video) accounted for 32.4% while classified took 18.5%.

As well as the increasing number of consumers online, the IAB attributed the rate of growth to a diversity of online advertising solutions and singled out mobile and video as formats which were "changing the landscape in dynamic ways".

In particular, it pointed to the "exponential increase" in mobile display advertising, up 78.3% thanks to the increased use of smartphones and tablets and greater desire for video content.

At €392m, mobile display advertising represented 5% of all online display advertising spend in Europe.

Data sourced from IAB Europe, Les Echos; additional content by Warc staff