Spending on digital advertising in Hong Kong is projected to surpass expenditure on traditional media campaigns for the first time in 2017, according to a new industry survey. “We see a breakthrough year, as advertisers are now more confident about investing in online and mobile marketing,” Raymond Ho Wai-ming, the chairman of the Hong Kong Advertisers Association, told the South China Morning Post on Wednesday. This much-anticipated shift in spending also shows that advertisers “are ready to move forward under the new normal of an uncertain local economy”, Ho said. The latest annual survey conducted by the association and market-measurement company Nielsen found that the city’s 100 major marketers plan to spend, on average, about 51 per cent of their budget on digital advertising and 49 per cent on traditional media campaigns. In contrast, last year’s survey showed 58 per cent of their advertising budget was expected to be consumed by traditional, or offline, campaigns and 21 per cent each by mobile and online marketing programmes. Weighed down by the weak local economy, total advertising spending in Hong Kong fell 9 per cent last year to HK$41.6 billion from HK$45.8 billion in 2015, according to updated estimates by media-monitoring firm admanGo. It said online and mobile platforms had a combined 13 per cent share of total advertising expenditure last year. Television remained the top media category for advertising, with a 30 per cent share. Free newspapers had a 17 per cent share, followed by 15 per cent for outdoor display, 14 per cent for paid newspapers, 7 per cent for magazines and 4 per cent for radio. Cherry Lau, senior director for media at Nielsen Hong Kong, said the latest industry survey showed 74 per cent of advertisers see digital marketing as more relevant for their target markets, while 63 per cent expected their campaigns to have a much wider reach. Ho pointed out that “every dollar counts” for marketers, who need more tools and research to measure the effectiveness of advertising in popular digital platforms, such as social media. The survey showed 72 per cent of the marketers polled are likely to invest in digital advertising measurement systems. Lau said the survey also offered some guidance on how much advertisers could boost their overall campaigns after last year’s decline. It showed that 26 per cent of the 100 major marketers polled plan to increase their advertising outlay from last year, 48 per cent will keep it unchanged and 26 per cent see a cut in spending. Lau said advertisers will need “to integrate and orchestrate” their strategies across online and offline media platforms to maximise their marketing budgets. “Cross-media placement and cross-platform measurement are becoming more important for marketers to engage with consumers over the various screens and devices they use,” Lau said. A report by research firm eMarketer earlier this month forecast digital campaigns to make up 20.4 per cent, worth US$616.8 million, of total advertising expenditure in Hong Kong this year. That would be up from last year’s 18.4 per cent share, estimated at US$560.8 million.