BEIJING: Aegis, the marketing communications group, is aiming to substantially increase the scale of its operations in China, as it seeks to take advantage of the rapid growth of the country's advertising market.

According to Aegis, adspend levels in the world's most populous nation will improve by 6.9% over 2009 as a whole, compared with a decline of 16.3% in the US.

Moreover, the Asian powerhouse will record a further uptick in revenues of 9% next year, as marketers continue to ramp up their budgets.

Jerry Buhlmann, chief executive of Aegis Group, said "China is unique. It's the only growth market this year, and it'll be the only significantly growing market next year." 
Aegis Media currently employs 650 people in the developing economy, a figure it expects to rise to 1,000 by the end of 2010, and to have doubled in three years time.

The company also derives around 7% of its total sales from China at present, with its major clients including Coca-Cola and Nokia.

Patrick Stahle, ceo of Aegis Media's operations in Asia Pacific, said digital is one key area of potential growth, as Chinese advertisers typically only direct around 4% of their media spending to the web.

This is despite the fact that consumers there are "by far the most active in social media compared to anywhere in the world," he added.

Other challenges for the industry include establishing third-party measurement tools that will provide authoritative data about media use in the country, Stahle argued.

A separate study released by Hudson Recruitment found that 17% of advertising and PR companies in mainland China plan to increase their staffing levels in Q4 this year, while just 2% intend to cut back.

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal/Shanghai Daily; additional content by Warc staff