KARACHI: Advertising expenditure in Pakistan is growing at between 10% and 12% a year according to a leading industry figure, with TV accounting for the lion's share of the total.

Fouad Husain, CEO of GroupM, which claims to handle more than one quarter of the country's total advertising budget, told Pakistan Today that more than Rs 65bn was spent annually with Rs 45bn going on TV and Rs 17bn on print media.

Mobile brands are the main source of TV advertising revenues, as they spend billions of rupees recruiting new customers. Husain also noted that FMCG and finance brands were starting to shift budgets out of print and onto TV.

Despite that, spending on print media has increased in recent years, partly a consequence of steeply rising advertising rates. "If a newspaper was charging Rs 10,000 for an ad five years ago, it is now charging Rs 100,000," Hussain said.

But a lack of research and reliable statistics on circulations and readerships means that advertisers are increasingly turning to television, which is able to furnish this type of detailed data about who is watching and where.

Husain also accused print media owners of under-investing in writers and journalism, leading to an inevitable decline in standards.

He was more optimistic about the prospects for television advertising, however, suggesting it would grow "by a digit this year". And he expected that "it should grow in maturity as well so that the content improves".

Outdoor media is another channel where he anticipated growth, driven by new digital technology and a shift to electronic billboards.

But he sounded a note of caution: "Everybody wants to use the digital media but very few know how to use it. So, I think we are going through a learning curve."

As for radio – it's "just songs", he said. "I don't think that as a country and as a media market, we have been able to crack a solution as to how the radio should progress."

Data sourced from Pakistan Today; additional content by Warc staff