HONG KONG: China continues to consolidate its number three position in the global adspend league. Latest data reveals that marketers spent between 18% and 22% more in 2006 than in the previous year, boosted by increased competition in the banking sector and major sports events such the Winter Olympics and soccer World Cup.

According to CTR Market Research, advertisers spent $36.9 billion (€28.3bn; £19bn) in China last year, up 18% from a year earlier. The company recorded 22% growth in 2004 and an increase of 39% in 2003.

Nielsen Media Research puts last year's hike in adspend even higher at 22%, bringing the total budget to $50bn.

According to Nielsen's China director Rita Chan, the biggest spenders last year were pharmaceuticals and toiletries. The fastest-growing sectors were pharmaceuticals and manufacturing, with autos also showing impressive growth.

Foreign competition in the banking sector played an important part in the sharp rise of finance and investment adpsend. It was also fuelled by Chinese bank IPOs and a strong performance by the domestic stock market.

However, the latter accounted for just 1.4% of the nation's GDP last year, compared with 3% in the US.

Comments Tian Tao, vp of CTR: "China's advertising market still has much room for growth. We are optimistic about . . . the next two years."

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff