BEIJING: Adspend levels through China's three mainstream media – TV, magazines and newspapers – rose by 17% in 2008 to a total of 520.3 billion yuan ($76.2bn; €56.1bn; £52.8bn), according to figures from The Nielsen Company.

WARC estimates that China's ad market expanded by 16.4% last year at current prices, and also predicts growth will slow to around 5% this year.

According on Nielsen's figures, Chinese adspend growth last year increased from the level of 15% recorded in 2007, but fell from the overall improvement of 23% posted in 2006.

TV received the vast majority of adspend among the mediums tracked by Nielsen, with an 83% share, compared with 15% for newspapers and a total of just 2% for magazines.

For the year as a whole, TV adspend rose by 18% on an annual basis, with magazine advertising expenditure up by 20%, and newspaper adspend growing by 12%.

In the fourth quarter, television's growth rate increased slightly to 19%, compared with a 14% upturn for magazines, and just 6% for newspapers.

Olay, owned by Procter & Gamble, was the top brand advertiser last year, followed by KFC, Sanjing Pharmaceutical, L'Oréal and China Mobile.

Pharmaceuticals and health products was the top advertiser category in 2008, followed by toiletries, beverages, business and industry and food products.

The travel and transport sector also saw a 56% growth in adspend, largely thanks to the Beijing Olympics, but Nielsen argues the Games did not benefit the country's ad market as a whole.

Jed Meyer, its managing director of media services in Greater China, argued the Games did not "deliver the advertising boon everyone expected."

Rather, he says "the bulk of China's advertisers took a serious ad break during August, resulting in a monthly adspend figure close to 2007 levels."

Data sourced from The Nielsen Company; additional content by WARC staff