Spending on online advertising leapt 40 percent in Europe last year to 11 billion euros ($17 billion), the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) Europe said on Monday, as the Internet attracts ad budgets away from print.
"With some analysts predicting that advertising on traditional media may be impacted by an economic slowdown, the research shows that online advertising continues to grow apace," the IAB said in its report.
London-based WPP, the world's second-largest advertising group after Omnicom , has said more than 20 percent growth is expected in online ad budgets this year, after online ads accounted for 9 percent of global ad spend in 2007.
Advertisers are keen to reach the hundreds of millions of users of online social networks such as News Corp.'s MySpace, or Facebook, although they are still figuring out how best to engage those users.
According to the IAB report, which was processed and analyzed by PricewaterhouseCoopers, Europe is closing the gap on the United States, where it said online advertising spending grew 26 percent to 14.5 billion euros last year.
In Europe, two-thirds of advertising budgets were spent in Britain, Germany and France.
Online advertising accounted for at least 10 percent of overall advertising spending in Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Sweden and the UK, the report said.
Norwegian Internet users were the most expensive to target, with advertisers spending 133.20 euros per consumer reached, compared with the European average of 80.60 euros.
In the United States, the average was 91.90 euros per person.
The sectors investing most in online advertising were entertainment and leisure, telecoms, and finance and insurance.