BERLIN: Advertising expenditure levels increased by more than 3% in Germany during the first quarter of this year, new figures show.

According to Nielsen, the research firm, ad revenues in the country climbed by 3.3% across the opening three months of 2012 to just under €6bn.

Demand rose by 0.8% in January, a rate of acceleration then reaching 4.8% in February and 3.9% in March.

"We are hoping this kind start to the year on the advertising front will build further momentum in the coming months," said Ludger Wibbelt, managing director of Nielsen in Germany.

By sector, the automotive industry overtook retail as the largest category registering a total investment of €402m, a €29m improvement measured against 12 months earlier.

Audi, the high end marque, almost doubled its spending to €30m, but the company still fell behind Volkswagen on €48m and Daimler on €32m when discussing overall budgets.

Players in the online services market, however, posted the most substantial net increase, up by €48m. This included a 5.2% lift from Google to €15.7m, while Trivago, a travel portal, also raised its outlay by €10m to a similar final amount.

Less favourably, retailers cut back by 30% year on year to record a collective €340m, with the Media-Saturn Group alone approximately halving its activity compared with the previous quarter.

Aldi, Edeka and Netto were some of the other chains which made significant negative revisions to budgets.

Wibbelt added: "Major sporting events like the European Football Championships and the Olympics are promotional opportunities retailers cannot miss, especially as consistently high levels of consumer confidence in Germany are exerting a positive effect on the willingness of consumers to spend."

In terms of media channels, print was the biggest loser of the first quarter, down to €82m. In contrast, the internet grew by over 14% to €78m and television was worth €184m, a 7.7% lift.

Data sourced from Nielsen; additional content by Warc staff