JOHANNESBURG: Advertising expenditure levels continued to rise in South Africa last year, although the rate of growth slowed during the downturn.

Figures from AGB Nielsen, the research firm, showed that total media budgets in the country climbed by 6% on an annual basis in 2009 to R36.2 billion ($4.9bn; 3.7bn; £3.3bn).

This compared with the expansion of 11% that was recorded in 2008, and the uptick of 25% that was generated in 2007.

In 2009, television revenues stood at R21.2bn, up by 13.4% year-on-year, while print was off by 3.1% to R9.4bn, as was radio, by 5.3% to R3.6bn.

Cinema witnessed a slide of 15.1% to R304 million, while outdoor was essentially flat, posting sales of R1.1bn over the 12 months as a whole.

More positively, the web enjoyed an improvement of 25% to R469m, with direct mail also seeing modest growth to R151m overall.

Over 6 million ads were placed in 2009 – up from 4.1 million in 2006 – with TV being responsible for the majority, on 3.3 million, ahead of radio on 1.4 million spots and print on 921,229 ads.

Harry Herber, managing director of Media Shop, a media buying agency, said this performance was reasonably robust given that South Africa had experienced the "worst economic recession" in its history.

"The industry has not fared badly. Of course, there will be those who would have liked the adspend to have increased by 25% as it did in 2007, but let's be realistic, it is not going to happen in the foreseeable future," he added.

Data sourced from Business Day/Media Shop; additional content by Warc staff