SHANGHAI: China is on course to become the world's second largest advertising market by 2015, when its total adspend is expected to be worth $57bn, a new report has predicted.

Driven primarily by the popularity of digital media channels, it also means China will be one of only two countries in APAC (along with Australia) – and one of only 12 countries globally – where digital adspend is expected to overtake TV this coming year, Digital Market Asia reported.

The study, "China Market Profile" from research companies Magna Global Intelligence and UM China, found that with more than half a billion internet users in China social media adspend will grow faster than any other digital segment.

It is forecast to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 67.6% through to 2018 at the same time as print adspend declines to a market share of just 6.2% from its current share of 14.1%.

Popular Weibos, or microblogging social networks, have given a lift to mobile-based advertising, the report found, and mobile ads now comprise 10% of digital ad revenues and 3.5% of total ad revenues.

China is also forecast to be the third largest programmatic market in the world in 2017 even though its programmatic market share will be a relatively modest 23% by then – a sign of the "massive" size of the Chinese digital market, the report said.

Even though China's digital market is forecast to be larger than its TV market in 2014, Campaign Asia reported that Magna and UM still expect its TV market to grow 8.3% this year, albeit at a slower rate than in previous years.

Digital out-of-home is also becoming an increasingly significant category, fuelled by population density in the eastern cities, good consumer tolerance, low restrictions and investment capabilities.

In other findings, the report said adspend in China is dominated by food, health service and health products and, while western companies have dominated among the top ten spenders in the past, an increasing number of top spenders are domestic companies as well.

Data sourced from Digital Market Asia, Campaign Asia; additional content by Warc staff