James Wilson
James is a Research Analyst covering several sectors for Mintel Ireland. His specialist areas include all things digital, social media and consumer shopping habits.

In a word: NO!

Mintel’s Attitudes to Advertising – Ireland – May 2012 report found that Irish consumers show a low level of engagement towards advertising on social channels, with only 9% of NI and 16% of RoI consumers paying attention to social media advertising.

This is despite the fact that social media channels have become an increasingly mainstream advertising platform which advertisers and brands alike have been piling into. Mintel’s Attitudes to Advertising – Ireland – May 2012 market report estimated that total online advertising expenditure for NI alone was set to reach £121 million (€151 million) or 30% of total advertising expenditure in 2012.

Social networking sites appear to have benefited from this heavy investment in online advertising. So despite the less than stellar levels of engagement, why are advertisers investing so heavily in advertising through social media? Well, they are doing so for one key reason: to directly engage their desired audience where they are. And according to Mintel’s Online Social Networking – Ireland – October 2011 report, the overwhelming majority of Irish consumers are on Facebook, with 86% of RoI and 77% of NI consumers having a profile, spending an average of 17 hours on the social networking site.

But despite the low levels of Irish engagement with advertising through social media channels, there are examples of extremely successful campaigns, such as ‘Old Spice’s Smell Like A Man’ campaign. However, the medium by and large remains ineffective as a primary advertising channel as the findings above show because Irish consumers use these sites to keep in touch with friends and family – not to consume advertising!

This should serve as sobering news to advertisers who are ploughing a fortune into advertising through social media channels.  While the rewards of increased exposure through viral marketing, increased sales and a loyal army of brand evangelists are on offer, it is worth noting that balance between advertising platforms is the key – and social media must be part of an integrated communications strategy if it is to increase its effectiveness in reaching the Irish consumer.

So how can advertisers reach Irish social media consumers?

Very simply – by being relevant! Advertise through relevant channels, with a relevant message offering relevant products and above all else, be relevant to the Irish consumer’s needs!

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