NEW YORK: The unstoppable juggernaut that is the Chinese economy will help it overtake the US as the biggest driver of global advertising growth by the end of this year, predicts the head of WPP Group's media unit GroupM, Adam Smith.

He predicts China's investment in major media during 2006 will top $4.2 billion (€3.15; £2.12bn) while the US will reach $4bn.

Smith told a New York conference that global media spend on print was continuing to slide, despite is innovations, while the web's eyewatering expansion would remain "largely the preserve of the West".

He was optimistic about television's adspend future, despite gloom in certain quarters. He believes its strength lies in emerging economies and a key agency skill in the market is "price analysis".

In Western Europe, however, ad budgets continue to migrate from TV to the web. In the UK, which leads the continent and the US in internet advertising, Smith says online is "pretty much the only source of revenue growth".

He expects the medium will continue its expansion, but may not sustain previous 30% to 40% growth rates.

Smith noted that some marketers, particularly those in packaged goods, "have an attachment to traditional media" and lack understanding in how digital media can help them.

He predicts global media spend growth rates will remain flat in 2007 at 5% to reach $414bn. This year's media spend will be up 5.3% from 2005 to $395bn.

Data sourced from; additional content by WARC staff