BEIJING: Digital adspend in China will grow by more than one third in 2013, with an average of RMB 23m being allocated to this channel, and will account for almost a quarter of the nation's total marketing spend, new research has indicated.

The China Digital Media Survey, from consultancies R3 and AdMaster, forecast that digital spend will rise 38%, significantly faster than the 27% seen in 2012, with the expansion being funded through larger budgets as well as the redirection of money from other channels.

"Digital is not 'new media' any more. It's firmly mainstream," Fora Liu, a senior consultant at R3, told Campaign Asia-Pacific. "Ramping up digital expertise, both external and in-house, is now a big priority for marketing teams."

Liu added: "We're seeing the demand for digital grow faster than some marketers can keep up."

Online video is forecast to account for 36% of the annual increase in spending, followed by industry verticals, on 20%, and micro-blogs, on 16%.

Search and portal will each take 12% of the increase, with social networks the remaining 4%.

Mobile is not expected to see any increase in spending, and just 24% of respondents regarded investment here as being a 'very important' part of their marketing mix.

That said, more than 40% of marketers planned major investments in the fast-growing mobile app WeChat.

The investment in video is to be expected since 84% of marketers surveyed said they were happy with the digital communication outcomes for their online video and search activities.

But just 8% said they were pleased with the ROI from social media actions, indicating that there is work to be done in this area.

Another factor that concerned marketers was effective measurement, with half expressing worries about inflated site traffic figures. Vincent Yan, chief executive of AdMaster, said that discrepancies between data from websites and from independent tracking companies could be anywhere from 2% to 30%.

Data sourced from Campaign Asia-Pacific; additional content by Warc staff