SINGAPORE: The Interactive Advertising Bureau's optimistic outlook for digital marketing in Asia has prompted the body to open a local chapter in the region to promote its growth, which it hopes will reach 20% of marketing spend by 2020.

The announcement, which came at the recent ad:tech Singapore conference, followed discussions between online media owners, agencies and resellers, who acknowledged the industry had some way to go before reaching its target.

Ken Mandel, vice-president and managing director of Yahoo! South-east Asia, estimates digital spend in the region is currently about 2%.

"We do need to get those spends up to at least 10%, which I'd say is the industry average," he said. "Western markets are already approaching 20%, so that's one of the challenges I see for Singapore."

Online forecasts for Asia point to favourable growth potential. OgilvyOne research recently reported that 10% of all Singaporeans' internet sessions involved the use of social media and online forum websites.

And a Synovate study in March suggested that more than a third of 8–24-year-old Asians had been using the Internet for over a year.

Meanwhile, in Europe, the IAB has released its final audited figures for 2008, in association with PricewaterhouseCoopers. It reports that growth has "slowed" in mature markets to under 20% and search remains the most popular online advertising format.

Overall, the European online advertising market was worth €12.9 billion ($18.1bn; £10.1bn) in 2008, says the IAB, 93% of which was accounted for by the top 10 markets. The Netherlands, Europe's early adopter of online advertising, registered the flattest growth at 9%.

Other markets slowed, but less so: France registered 18.5% growth, the UK, Germany and Sweden 19% and Italy 20%. Belgium grew 21% and Denmark and Norway hit a 22% growth rate. Spain, by comparison, saw relatively strong growth at 26%.
Search remains the leading format in Europe with the strongest year-on-year growth rate – also 26% – accounting for 43% of online ad expenditure in the 19 countries measured and a value of €5.6bn.

Data sourced from Interactive Advertising Bureau; additional content by WARC staff