BEIJING: The internet industry in China is booming as advertisers move to monetise the nation's rapidly-expanding digital population, new figures from a trade body have suggested.

According to the Internet Society of China, industry revenues, including expenditures on ecommerce, digital advertising and online gaming, reached $72.4bn in 2012, China Daily reports.

This in turn suggests that the internet accounted for 0.9% of Chinese GDP in 2012. The economy of the world's most populous nation grew by 7.7% over the year.

Gao Xinmin, vice-president of the Internet Society of China, said: "The industry has become an important way for China to ease the effects of the [global] economic crisis."

Figures released this week China Internet Network Information Center suggest that the overall number of internet users in China has reached 564 million, 51 million higher than the beginning of the 2012, making the nation the world's largest in terms of digital population.

Many of these new users went online for the first time via the mobile web, due to patchy fixed-line infrastructure outside cities.

A new report from Analysys International, a market research firm, also shows that China has also become the world's top smartphone producer, shipping 224m handsets during 2012.

Data sourced from China Daily/Warc/Xinhua/Morning Whistle; additional content by Warc staff