SINGAPORE: The number of advertising accounts that changed hands in Asia Pacific rose dramatically during the first half of this year, a study has found.

R3:GC, the consultancy, reported that 1,109 briefs shifted to new shops in the opening six months of 2010, an increase of 50% year-on-year.

China recorded an uptick of 137%, as 225 pitches resulted in the appointment of a creative or media specialist not previously employed to represent the brand in question.

Totals in India climbed 104% to 212, in another indication of the intense competition that is observable in two of the key emerging markets in Asia.

Elsewhere, Singapore was one of the few countries where activity declined, posting a contraction of 8% measured against 12 months ago.

Successful creative teams participating in reviews were rewarded with cumulative billings of $1.6bn (€1.2bn; £1.0bn), considerably less than the $2.3bn accumulated in H1 2008 and $1.4bn in H1 2009.

"If this growth remains constant then the return to pre-economic crash levels would be seen by this time next year," said Sally Warren, GM of agency consulting at R3:GC.

China was responsible for the largest overall share on $376m, up 134% after a "particularly hard" first half of 2009, followed by India in second on $319m.

Since 2008, however, India has delivered growth of 13%, a rate of expansion that fell to just 1% in China, although Hong Kong and Singapore experienced decreases of 21% in and 55% respectively.

Winning a typical creative pitch was worth $1.5m in billings in H1 2010, down from $1.8m in H1 2009 and $2.6m in H1 2008, suggesting a creeping commodisation.

In keeping with this trend, while the average account came in at $1.7m, 43% of marketers in the country almost exclusively operate on project-only terms, allowing them to "shop around" for the best ideas.

By category, telecoms and tourism were the sectors of the greatest financial importance to agencies, and Dell and Sony Ericsson handed Bates 141 and McCann high-profile regional duties.

Turning to media, the number of briefs transferred into planning and buying providers slid by 5% year-on-year to under 2,000.

China enjoyed an improvement of 26% and India registered an even more substantial surge of 73%.

In contrast with their creative equivalent, media accounts have actually increased in value as collective billings rose by 32% on an annual basis to $4.4bn, also were also slightly ahead of the first half of 2008.

China led the way again, with the mean appointment coming in at $12.3m, up 48% on H1 2009, figures that stood at $4.7m and $3.2m for India.

Unilever has been among the main movers in this area in 2010, tapping PHD in China and Taiwan, and Mindshare in India and Thailand.

Indeed, six of the biggest wins could be attributed to China, including Amway hiring MEC and Mindshare, Pepsi partnering with OMD, China Telecom choosing Carat and Mars-Wrigley moving chores to Starcom.

Data sourced from R3:GC; additional content by Warc staff