BEIJING: Advertising expenditure levels in China will increase by 10% this year, although this rate of growth marks a slowdown compared with the expansion recorded in 2009.

Figures from CTR Market Research, which is based in Beijing, show that total ad revenues in the world's most populous nation climbed by 13.5%, to $74 billion (€52.5bn; £45.9bn), last year.

L'Oréal, the French cosmetics firm, topped the spending charts, with Olay in second, despite the fact the Procter & Gamble-owned beauty brand cut back by 5% on an annual basis.

KFC, the fast food specialist, was in fourth position, with Wahaha, the beverage firm, in fifth, having boosted its ad budget by 104% in 2009.

By category, the beverage sector generated the largest uptick in outlay, of some 52%, but it still remained behind segments including toiletries and food overall.

As previously reported, the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television has recently issued new rules limiting the number and length of spots that can be shown on TV, and restricting products like tobacco from advertising via the medium.

CTR has predicted that these regulatory changes could ultimately result in some $18bn in advertising revenues that were previously directed to this channel being transferred to other forms of media.

More broadly, the organisation suggested that there would be a shift away from drama series towards variety and talk shows, with product placement also likely to play a heightened role going forward.

Another feature of the media sector in 2010 is likely to be mergers between some of the major players in the industry, a trend that will be particularly pronounced with regard to television.

Tao Tian, vice president at CTR, said that "TV is not 'the' medium in the future", as demonstrated by the fact that its ad sales are likely to be flat this year, at around $58bn.

Outdoor revenues jumped by 9% in 2009, to $3.4bn, helped by an increase in ad rates, and the ending of restrictions put in place during the Beijing Olympics. (This total excludes Shanghai, due to cost inflation linked to the World Expo to be held in the city this year.)

Newspapers also witnessed a 9% improvement, to $9.7bn, over the last 12 months, with television screens on buses up by 41%, and LCD displays growing by 17%.

Warc's most recent Consensus Forecast, which is based on a weighted average of predictions made by advertising agencies, media companies and industry associations, suggested that Chinese adspend would grow by 10.6% in 2010.

Data sourced from Media Asia; additional content by Warc staff