The Pace of Change in Media

September 26, 2014

Admittedly our industry is probably one of the more exciting and dynamic industries to have a career in. I’m possibly being biased here but when people ask that typical conversation starter question “what do you do?” and I respond with “advertising” I’m instantly met with “oh cool”, “wow” or “is it like Mad Men?”
I’m not exactly a veteran of the industry but something that I’ve noticed is the pace of change in our industry; it’s phenomenal. In the last few years it can‘t be denied the leaps and bounds that the industry has come in terms of offering solutions for our clients communication needs. I often think about how people who have been in this industry a somewhat more substantial amount of time than me, must think regarding the rate of change. Perhaps in the 1980’s and 1990’s seismic changes occurred every couple of years with the introduction of a new radio station, for example Radio Ireland (now Today FM) being launched to rival RTE radio on a national front. Now it’s every few weeks/months that we are receiving updates and the main attributor to this is Digital.

Since I joined the wonderful world of media in 2011 the changes that I’ve witnessed are dramatic. VOD didn’t appear on our plans, Search budgets were pretty modest, a Facebook campaign meant garnering “likes” and I don’t think Twitter even featured! Now however we are regularly developing AV (audio visual) strategies in order to capture all potential viewers and building in the second and third screen. This incorporates TV, VOD, Mobile, Cinema & more. Another example of the fast pace of change we’re experiencing is the people. A few years ago if someone said that they work in social most people probably would have cocked their head to the side and asked “do you like sit on Facebook all day?!”

Online versus traditional

Needless to say digital developments have even changed how we plan the more ‘traditional’ forms of media. For example; when we’re planning radio campaigns we take into consideration the social offering of radio stations as well as the fact that we can now listen to radio online. Planning Outdoor? Dpods and interactive formats appear on plans more often than not. It’s only a matter of time before the digital OOH portfolio expands even further. Can you imagine a Dublin version of Time’s square? If we’re planning press we also consider that there are online offerings as well as iMags and Mobile options that can be included.

Some other changes that that I see having an impact on our industry and my role is data. Whether it’s our own, industry data, client’s data, bespoke, this is a whole new area for our industry that offers so much rich and quality information. There’s a whole new level of insights that data can offer that agencies are now recruiting data specialists and upskilling employees to interpret the masses of information that was once upon a time untapped and not particularly obvious to us. Data visualisation is a rather new but incredibly helpful tool for us all as well. It enables us to bring our strategies and innovative thoughts to life in a creative format and thus enrich our output for clients. Being media specialists it’s important that we all stay up to date with these developments so that we can bring the best to our clients. Data and all things digital is not something that you can just dip your toe into every now and again.



I’ve started sitting in on social meetings in the last few months to get a first-hand insight into how “these social campaigns” work and everything that goes into them. Once upon a time it was just about setting up a Facebook and Twitter account and voila, you’re “doing social”. Now, we have planning, briefing and review sessions, people are hired specifically for these roles, there are specialist agencies whose job it is to run social media campaigns (“do you like sit on Facebook all day?”) Companies are now hiring Chief Social Officer’s which in our industry is a welcome addition to any agency.

Digital is addictive, as a colleague simply put it today “it’s where we work, rest and play”. We’re all using it and we use it for almost everything. But we should also be aware how it has affected the development of more traditional forms of media; even cinema has been digitised with the digital transfer.

Given the rapid pace of change at the moment it’s easy to get lost in thought wondering where we’ll be in ten years; will it be like that movie Minority Report with retina identification? Will technology have advanced so much that all other forms of media will have disappeared into the background? I love hearing the “back in the day” stories from some of my colleagues and how different it was in many aspects. Hopefully in 10 – 15 years’ time someone in my position now will ask me “what was it like in your day?” Answer; “things changed a lot!”

– Rachel



The Great Outdoors

September 18, 2014

In recent times there has been some movement in terms of digital outdoor advertising in Ireland, where we are beginning to advance with technology, and how we can provide a clearer, more visible campaign to clients. We have seen the introduction of NFC technology on Adshells, also the projector screen which has been added at the foot of Wexford Street to support the Dublin Fringe 2014. Exterion Media have recently been making moves to digitize T-Sides and the rail line network. However, is this still far behind where we potentially could be? In a somewhat restrictive environment, it sometimes feels like Ireland in general are behind the curve when it comes to outdoor advertising, and most prominently, digital outdoor advertising.

Ireland has a great deal of international and local client activity side by side. When planning is done for all forms of clients, considerations will be made across all countries as to how other markets are innovating. Sometimes in Ireland, we are faced with the issue that we cannot always emulate what is taking place in other markets, as we can be limited in terms of estate available to media planners. This can pose the question, are we potentially missing out on an even more effective campaign due to the lack of digital OOH space? And is there a need for prime site locations that are freely available in other markets. Paddy Power are renowned for their outdoor advertising, which has resulted in them trending frequently on social media, and are regularly active on innovative digital formats and are highly reactive in their communications.


Paddy Power


Digital billboards in the UK are located on major transport routes, such as the above in Situ image. In the UK, sites are now provided on motorways in digital billboard formats, which give access to a far greater level of visually impactful space. They’re vibrant, easily adaptable, reactive, and located in unrivalled locations where traffic levels are extremely large. Major international brands are active consistently on such sites  in the UK, and markets further afield, which gives a good indication that if this was available in the Irish market, surely these international and local clients alike would be willing to embrace these advancement in the Irish market.


Motorway digital


Some may argue perhaps we do not need this level of advertising in Ireland, as we are on a lesser scale to the UK market and population. But figures indicate there is a very strong argument for such advancements in OOH advertising. With stretches heading south on the m50 achieving in excess of 90,000 daily users, the weekly figures would almost double that of weekly visitors to Dundrum Town Centre. This will most certainly have the underlying issue of road safety, but surely this issue is one faced across all markets that offer the prime location sites.


Piccadilly Circus is the UK’s answer to Time Square, which faces on to one of the UK’s busiest shopping destinations, and is now one of the most photographed landmarks in the world. They have had a host of major brands who have committed long term investment to the site, with Coca Cola being present on the site since 1955 as an example. It could be argued that this is a somewhat audacious level of digital advertising, but something that surely could be just as popular with brands if tailored to suit the Irish market. Most brands that are active in Piccadilly are active here also, which gives a strong indication that there is a need to add prime digital locations across Ireland, so as to match the capabilities of other markets. With almost £50m spent on large digital outdoor formats alone in the UK in 2013, we can see there is a big appetite from brands to be active on such space. This could transfer directly to the Irish market, granted on a smaller scale, if the formats were available here.

Piccadilly Circus:                                      Potential College Green:




Piccadilly 1garfton



Mark Fitzharris.



Living in Ireland has been a very eye-opening experience for me in terms of understanding different cultures.  I don’t think I was prepared for how different it would be from Canada when I moved here just less than two years ago.

Various things I am still learning and getting used to include driving on the other side of the road, the weather, multiple accents and dialects (many of which I still struggle to understand), slang words and phrases, and everyday products that are available here which I would never imagine finding in Canada (black pudding is made with what!?).

So with having to adjust to all of those differences, it was nice then to realize that some of the same products could actually be found in both countries.  For me, it was a matter of learning that certain items just have different names to what I’d have grown up with and become accustomed to.

‘Walkers’ crisps, for example, are called ‘Lays’ back home even though the product itself is the same in both countries.  When I have a craving for ‘Dove’ chocolate, I just grab a ‘Galaxy’ bar here instead.  And what you would call ‘Lynx’ body spray here?  Well that would be called ‘Axe’ body spray as far as I’m concerned.

Walkers                Lynx

The fact that product names can vary depending on where you find them is only scratch on the surface of all the considerations that need to be made when marketing a global product at a local level.

More and more large brands are attempting to centralize their marketing strategies in an effort to improve brand consistency, but could those actions actually be hindering, rather than enhancing, the efficiency of their campaigns?  It is crucial to take the time and effort to get to know your target audience and how it may differ from region to region.

Language barriers that exist between different regions on an international level play a major role in determining various factors of a brand or campaign.  This extends beyond just the naming process as I’ve already mentioned and should also be taken into consideration with taglines and slogans to ensure there are no embarrassing translations in other languages.

While major internationally-known brands and products may be fortunate enough not to have to worry as much about their message or campaign being lost-in-translation, some companies aren’t always so lucky.  The American Dairy Association, for instance, attempted to launch their “Got Milk?” campaign in Mexico where, translated, the question actually asks “Are you lactating?”.  Not exactly the most enticing way to promote your milk brand.  Another example of branding that got lost in translation – in China, KFC’s “Finger Lickin’ Good” slogan actually suggested they wanted you to “eat your fingers off”.  Thanks but no thanks KFC, I’ll just stick with the chicken.

But language is only one aspect to consider in attracting the consumer.  The cultural differences are much harder to recognize and work with effectively.  The actual content of advertisements must be relatable to the consumer within the targeted local market.  For example, we all know the old folklore story about babies being delivered by storks.  While that may be the tale we’ve heard all our lives in Europe and North America, in Japan the story is that giant floating peaches bring babies to their parents.  So you can see the confusion that Japanese parents experienced when Proctor & Gamble began selling Pampers diapers in Japan using the stork imagery.  The campaign worked well in the U.S., but never really caught on in Japan.

This extends beyond how a brand communicates, but also to the very product it sells.  For instance, I notice that there are a variety of flavours of crisps available in Europe that I’d never heard of before.  You’d be hard-pressed to find prawn cocktail flavour crisps on store shelves in North America.  Best Buy, an electronics retailer based primarily in North America, failed to take notice that Europeans prefer smaller shops rather than big department stores when they opened up locations in the UK in 2010. All 11 UK-based Best Buy stores were subsequently closed within a year and a half.  My point is, not only does your marketing content need to be consistent with the local cultural demographics, but the product or service itself needs to be tailored for the local market as well.

But I digress.

Whether or not you do your due-diligence to obtain this ever-important local knowledge could mean the difference between selling a vehicle with a “high-quality body” or one with a “high-quality corpse” (as Ford accidentally did when launching a campaign in Belgium).  So, while centralized marketing teams may help to maintain consistency in a brand as well as cut down on overheads and other costs, there’s definitely something to be said for having local insight, and it is essential to consider all of these aspects when launching a brand or product internationally.




The Rise of Native

September 3, 2014

Native advertising, essentially content based ads that are integrated within the editorial feed, have burst onto the scene in recent years and has been embraced by both publishers and advertisers. But why have they grown in popularity? In a constantly evolving advertising landscape with new mediums of communication regularly emerging, the real challenge for brands is to appear more authentic and ‘likeable’ than ever before which is where native formats fit in.

In addition, communicating to the desired consumer has become ever more difficult, especially with the strong transition to mobile channels which have less scope for display advertising – so in steps native advertising.  Well, as John Oliver, a commentator on The Daily Show in the US, put it in his recent rant on the technique “Even if you have never heard the term native advertising before, you have probably been subjected to it by now.” His statement alone hints at the effectiveness of this form of advertising – it is less invasive and direct and therefore consumers are sometimes unaware that they are engaging with an advertisement.

While some may view this as a type of trickery, native advertising is a clever way of promoting a brand and product without appearing as intrusive or direct. However, this is only if it is done correctly…and believe me, there is a fine line between success and failure when it comes to native ads.

Perhaps the most entertaining and effective example of native advertising I’ve come across is an article from the New York Times which, at first glance, appears to be a serious piece of editorial depicting women’s life in prison. However, at a second look, it seemed that the article was actually promoting season two of Netflix’s popular dark comedy ‘Orange is The New Black’. Why was it so effective? Because the reporting was real and the sponsored branding kept to a minimum.  In terms of success, the ad helped the company reach a larger audience beyond the original viewership and led to over 140k shares on social media. 


ny times


Another example a bit closer to home, was 7UP Free’s promotion of its Balloon Street installation on Coppinger Row over the August Bank Holiday weekend. The campaign focused on the concept of being ‘refreshingly original’. The below piece featured on TheDailyEdge.ie and provided interesting suggestions to those seeking something a little different over the bank holiday. The content is clearly sponsored by 7up yet focuses on entertaining the reader as opposed to simply selling the soft drink – success!


7up balloon street 1

7up balloon street 2

With this in mind, there are a number of fail-safe tips to keep in mind for effectiveness in native advertising. Firstly, transparency is key. Being upfront that it is a sponsored piece of content will win brownie points with the reader in terms of trust.

It is also imperative to note that content is always king! Ensure that the ad is centred on a well written, relevant and entertaining piece of content. It goes without saying, the better the quality of the content, the more likely people are to engage with it.

The relevancy of the content is equally important and it is vital that the native ad features in an environment that is relevant to the target market. This will ensure maximum impact and a higher level of reach.

Finally, no one likes a greedy guts and it’s important not to overuse. If the consumer feels that their news is constantly being infiltrated with sponsorships and hidden advertisements, they will become irritated and lose trust or interest in the brand.




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