SYDNEY: Media spending in Australia is expected to grow by almost 3% in 2014, ending three years of decline according to a new survey.

The Media Futures survey from Starcom MediaVest found that advertisers anticipated an increase of 2.6% in spending while media executives predicted a slightly higher 2.8% rise, B&T reported.

Chris Nolan, CEO of Starcom MediaVest Group Australia, noted that digital media channels were again projected to have the highest increases in spending.

"But, interestingly, free-to-air TV is also forecast to increase 4% on the previous year, he added, speculating that "this could be because of the increased levels of participation with television through platforms like Twitter, which enhance the experience for viewers".

Commenting on the wider media landscape, Nolan observed that "innovation in depth and breadth of media provides for more participation and personalisation from communications, thus having the opportunity for greater relevance and potency".

He argued that this meant that no channels would be used less, "so advertisers will have to get smarter about their investments, and this is absolutely reflected in the fact that almost half of advertisers are looking to increase their ROI activity".

Just as spend on digital continued to grow, so investment in newspapers and magazines was expected to carry on decreasing, although at -2.7% and -8.9% respectively, the rate of decline is slowing significantly from the previous double-digits drops.

Media owners were more optimistic however, reported Ad News, as this part of the survey showed newspaper executives predicting 6.5% growth in 2014, while magazine executives were hoping for 5% growth.

For the first time, the survey included questions about advertisers' owned and earned media assets and found that budgets for these were expected to grow three and a half times as fast as paid media budgets, at 7.8% compared to 2.2%, said Marketing magazine.

"Most advertisers have a brand website, but this tranche of Media Futures showed an expected increase in activity which drives social conversation – likes, mentions, sharing of content – as well as an increased focus on CRM activities and retention and more usage of apps," said Nolan.

"Clearly, where the audience goes, the advertising dollars follow," he concluded.

Data sourced from B&T, Ad News, Marketing Magazine; additional content by Warc staff