LONDON/WASHINGTON: North America's position as the world's biggest regional advertising market has come under increasing pressure during the economic downturn, new figures from Warc show.

According to the latest data from World Ad Trends, global adspend rose by 0.2% on an annual basis in 2008, to $499 billion (€335bn; £297bn) at constant (2005) prices, with North America taking a 34.1% share, followed by Europe, on 31.3%, and Asia Pacific, on 24.7%.

The gap between the figures recorded by North America and Europe, however, closed from $29bn to $13bn, while most of the $10bn that was wiped off spending levels in the former of these two areas was offset by growth in APAC.

By country, the US contributed $158.5bn of the worldwide total, although this amounted to a contraction of 10% year-on-year, as the financial crisis forced American marketers to trim their budgets.

China was responsible for 11.4% of all expenditure, on $57.1bn, followed by Japan, on $41.9bn, Germany, on $28.6bn, and the UK, on $26.8bn.

Together, these five nations generated almost two-thirds of all ad revenues, despite the fact the UK registered a decrease of 6.9% in 2008, with Japan also off by 5.9%, and Germany by 2.9%, in this period.

In terms of the fastest-growing markets, India posted an uptick of nearly 16%, while China enjoyed an improvement of 9.9%, as did Brazil, by 7%, and Russia, by a more modest 2%.

Taking a look at expenditure per head of population, the US remained top of the pile, but Australia, Austria and Ireland took the next three spots, with the UK following on in fifth.

Japan, by contrast, tumbled to 13th position on this measure, while Germany was lower still, coming in at 16th place overall.

Warc subscribers can access further provisional details from World Ad Trends here. Full results will be published on Warc in the coming weeks.

Data sourced from Warc; additional content by Warc staff