NEW YORK, June 3 /PRNewswire/ --

- Ad spending to reach 115 million pounds Sterling in 2008

Online social networking continues to grow in the UK and more consumers are spending time at sites like Bebo and Facebook. Social networking is an activity that an estimated 11 million people, about 30% of UK Internet users, participated in last year. This year, advertising spending on social network sites is expected to rise 77% to 115 million pounds Sterling. In 2012, marketers are projected to spend 285 million pounds, a 148% increase over 2008.

UK Online Social Network Advertising Spending, 2007-2012 (millions and % change)

Social networks have been part of the UK Internet landscape for several years, and the UK dominates social network spending in Western Europe, with 68% of the market. However, the social network ad market still trails that in the U.S. by one to two years. eMarketer expects that the UK market will enjoy slightly greater gains in social network ad spending, percentage-wise, than the US. But social sites represent a tiny portion of UK online ad spending -- just 3.4% in 2008.

UK Online Social Network Advertising Spending, 2007-2012 (millions and % of total online ad spending)

Online social network ad spending has moved at a slower pace than consumer adoption, but with the growth of Facebook and the acquisition of homegrown favorite Bebo by AOL, things are picking up. Bebo, Facebook and MySpace account for the lion's share of users in the UK.

"Though social network advertising is forecast to grow aggressively this year, it will only do so if social network operators can develop substantial metrics showing the value and performance of the advertising," said Debra Aho Williamson, senior analyst specializing in social networking and author of the report, "UK Social Network Marketing: Ad Spending and Usage."

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Kris Oser, Director of strategic communications, +1-212-763-6033, or Samson Adepoju, Communications coordinator, +1-212-763-6044, both of eMarketer