BANGKOK: During the first ten months of 2013, advertising expenditure in Thailand rose only slightly and the outlook for the remainder of the year is gloomy given current political unrest.

Data from Nielsen Thailand indicated that overall adspend for the year to October amounted to 95.8bn baht, a 1.6% rise on the same period a year earlier.

Television was the primary advertising medium, accounting for just over 60% of the total, or 58.1bn baht. Newspapers were a distant second, with a 13% share worth 12.4bn baht. But while TV adspend had risen 2.5% on the previous year, newspaper spend had barely changed.

These two were followed by cinema, with a 6.5% share worth 6.2bn baht, and radio with a 5.4% share worth 5.2bn baht.

The fastest growing areas, however, were internet advertising, up 54% to 732m baht, and transit advertising, up 20% to 2.9bn baht.

Rathakorn Surbsuk, a trading partner at Group M, told the Bangkok Post it was too early to evaluate the effect of anti-government protests but added: "If the situation is prolonged, it will definitely hurt the entire ad industry, just like the yellow- and red-shirt protests a few years ago".

This was a reference to the events of 2008-09 when street protests by opposing political movements and violent clashes resulted in a state of emergency being declared. Ad industry growth declined by 2.1% one year and edged up just 0.1% the following year, before picking up again in 2010 when 12% growth was recorded.

If political stability is restored, with an election due in the New Year, adspend could grow by 5% in 2014. Vichai Suphasomboon, chief executive of Aegis Media Thailand, said the outlook was brighter thanks to major sports events including the FIFA World Cup and the Incheon Asian Games.

The emergence of digital TV is also expected to boost growth, as new advertisers enter the market for the first time.

But changing consumer habits are likely to see internet advertising continue to grow at a prodigious rate, as recent data from Google Thailand suggested that the average Thai now spends 16 hours a week online, compared to just ten hours in front of a TV.

Data sourced from Bangkok Post; additional content by Warc staff