SYDNEY: Australian advertisers upped their internet spend by 14% in the first quarter of 2009 on an annual basis, according to figures from PricewaterhouseCoopers prepared for the Interactive Advertising Bureau.

Online's buoyancy was in marked contrast to the nation's otherwise depressed ad market. 

The lion's share of the additional A$55 million ($41.1m; £27.5m, €31.1m) of online investment went to search engines and directories. Together, they make up just over half the $1.4 billion digital advertising sector – registering a 23% spike in spend.

Display, which accounts for 25% of the online market and includes banners and video spots, reported 16% growth.

Classifieds, however, dipped one percent mainly due to the beleaguered state of the property and car markets.

IAB chief executive Paul Fisher is predicting faster growth of “somewhere in the high teens" by the year end, once the wider economy picks up.

"I've always said I was hoping for 17% growth, and that's purely self-serving as it will put us through the $2 billion barrier, which would be great for the industry,” he said.

However, the prognosis for other media is not so optimistic, with analysts suggesting that pay-TV and online will be the only sectors to buck a 4.5% overall annual contraction.

Data sourced from Sydney Morning Herald; additional reporting by WARC staff