The UK arm of Diageo is to double its digital advertising spend on Smirnoff in the country this year, as companies' investments in online marketing continues to grow.

Diageo Great Britain said yesterday (10 January) that it will increase its digital spend on Smirnoff by 115% in 2011, compared with 2010. The drinks giant has been encouraged by growth in the market for online advertising and the success of its Smirnoff Nightlife Exchange Project (NEP) marketing campaign, which it has primarily conducted via Facebook.

The company said that it is seeking to foster online communities of Smirnoff consumers. Its NEP campaign on Facebook has a 312,000-strong community of fans in the UK and 2m fans globally, Diageo said.  

A spokesperson for the group declined to give a specific figure for its digital marketing spend on Smirnoff.

Online marketing using social networks helped to drive a 10% rise in online advertising spend in the UK in the first half of 2010, to GBP1.97bn (US$3bn), according to the Internet Advertising Bureau. Digital marketing accounted for almost a quarter of UK advertising spend during the six-month period.

All food and drinks companies face tougher online advertising rules in the UK from 1 March, when the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) will broaden its regulation of digital advertising to include advertisers' own websites. It will also attempt to police non-paid-for space on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter.