Carat 2012 Forecast – The Year Of Opportunity

We stand at the beginning of what we believe will be a year of amazing challenge and
opportunity, not just for media itself, but also for the way in which businesses and brands
communicate with their customers.

There is much to look forward to across the Irish media landscape. The digital TV
switchover
will finally happen in late October, bringing another 1 in 4 of the population
into the market for additional broadcast options on SKY, UPC or Saorview. Netflix, the US
movie streaming service, has already added more choices to Irish households and we will
also see the arrival of a new video-on-demand service from UPC.

Social media continues to spread its tentacles across the Irish media market. This is now
being accompanied by the explosive growth of mobile as a media channel in its own right,
thanks to the adoption of the smartphone by over one-third of Irish mobile users and the
advent of the ‘branded app’ as another route to engage.

As the lines between ‘new’ and ‘old’ media blur, other media owners will also be keen to
grab their share of the digital dividend that has seen spending across online media rise by
over 20% in 2011.

Of course, there will be major challenges for all stakeholders along the way. The market
will be watching to see the impact of the demise of share trading by RTÉ.
Of greater concern are the plans for imposed legislation designed to curtail the promotion
of alcohol, alongside a growing lobby for taxes on foods containing sugar and fats, which
could have longer term consequences for indigenous and international brands alike.
All of these developments will happen within the context of a harsh economic climate for
people living and working here and the calamitous state of the eurozone. Ireland is still
going through an unprecedented fiscal crisis that is affecting every individual, household
and business to some degree.

Advertising and commercial activity thrives on optimism and we are optimistic that there
are many brand owners, media channel providers and agencies like ourselves with the
enthusiasm, creative spirit and strategic capabilities to help the local economy to grow
again.

Carat expects media spending to stabilise in 2012 and we are forecasting a modest
decline of 2% to an annual spend of €753 million with some media naturally doing better
than others. As we outline in this edition of our annual media forecast, there have never
been more opportunities to plan, act and engage with customers through the new and
established range of media channels in creative and original ways. As Ireland’s largest
media agency, be assured that Carat is committed to harnessing its range of Irish and
international resources to ensure that our clients reinvent new ways to build their brands
through media in 2012.

We hope you find the full document useful. If you wish to discuss any of the topics raised,
please call me on 01 271 2139.

Best wishes for the year ahead.

Ciaran Cunningham –  Chief Executive

As always, if you have any opinions- supporting or conflicting- on this post or related matters we’d love to hear from you, so please feel free to post replies below.

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Irish Sun Sunday Edition to Launch This Week

After many months of speculation, Rupert Murdoch and News International announced today that the organisation will make a return to the Sunday tabloid market with the launch of the Irish Sun Sunday edition. The first edition of the new title will launch this Sunday, 26th February.

After Rupert Murdoch was initially quoted as saying that the launch would be “very soon”, the announcement that the first issue will launch this coming weekend has still caught the industry by surprise.  Quoted in the Irish Sun on Monday (20th February), Mr.Murdoch states that “We will build on The Sun’s proud heritage by launching The Sun on Sunday…I am even more determined to see The Sun continue to fight for its readers and its beliefs.”  Whether the shareholders of News Corporation will display such enthusiasm for this launch remains to be seen, as many have called for the newspaper division of the company to be sold off, particularly in light of the phone hacking scandal at the News of the World last year.  What it does demonstrate is Rupert Murdoch’s determination and belief in the power of The Sun and newspapers as a whole.  Even more so considering the timing of the launch, as it comes amidst the Operation Elveden investigation and being just over six months since the closure of the News of the World.  Murdoch has always been known as a “newspaper man” and his determination to re-enter the Sunday tabloid market is yet further proof of this.

In an Irish context, the launch of the Irish Sun this Sunday will present News International with a serious challenge.  The Sunday newspaper market has shown further decline in 2011, with Sunday readership now at 63% of all adults in 2011 vs. 69% of all adults in 2010 .  With the demise of the Irish News of the World last July, the majority of its readers did not switch to another newspaper, as the only rival title to see any kind of uplift in readers was the Irish Sunday Mirror, which saw an increase of +40,000 readers.  The challenge for the Irish Sun on Sunday will be firstly to bring Irish Sun readers across to the new Sunday version and also to see whether they can recruit any of the lapsed Irish News of the World readership.  Neither should be taken as a given in the current market but it should be interesting to see.  At the very least, it will help to bring some energy back into the Irish newspaper market and, hopefully, generate additional competition between rival publishers in delivering value to readers and advertisers.

Garret Monahan – Head of Press

*Image courtesy of user smemon at flickr.com

As always, if you have any opinions- supporting or conflicting- on this post or related matters we’d love to hear from you, so please feel free to post replies below.

This Season’s TV Programme Schedule

This year the broadcasters have been busy releasing their new spring schedules with each station promising to offer viewers something unique and different. We explore what’s really on offer from each of the stations.

RTÉ’s spring schedule is quite traditional, with some highlights, but once again I think they have forgotten about their younger audience and have failed to schedule against the digital offerings in the Irish market. RTÉ 1 delivered no surprises with shows like Raw, Supergarden and The Saturday Night Show all returning.  New shows include Saving the Titanic, an international co-production to mark the anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, and Ireland Outside the Euro, a documentary that explores exactly what it says on the tin.

Bankers such as The Late Late Show, Operation Transformation and Mrs Browns Boys all remain in the schedule.  Over on RTÉ2, US dramas like Desperate Housewives and Grey’s Anatomy are present but with Living showing Grey’s ahead of RTÉ and Channel 4 showing Desperate Housewives in the same week they don’t still hold the same appeal.  New US sitcom 2 Broke Girls launched in January but with disappointing results, only attracting an average of 29,000 MC A15-34 over the first two weeks. Sport continues to play a big role on RTÉ2 with both Premier Soccer Saturday and The Six Nations airing.

TV3 launched their schedule together with the cast of all their hit shows in the convention centre on the 26th of January.  Home productions continue to play a key role for RTÉ, relying heavily on reality shows and documentaries. Come dine with me Ireland returns to our screens in spring with new reality shows including Tallafornia, Southside Housewives, Hen Nights and The Great Irish Bake-Off.  Other highlights include Mastermind and the return of the new series of Dallas which should attract both the older and younger audiences.

TV3 are eager to get some big rating pullers into their schedule throughout the year instead of having to rely on shows like X factor and The Apprentice in Q4 which performed disappointingly for them last year. While I am not sure that they have cracked it with any of the above, I do think they will appeal to a mixed audience and will help broaden the profile of the station.

Elsewhere, SKY announced Irish advertising opt outs for 3 new channels – At The Races in January, SKY Living +1 in February and SKY 2 in March.  Highlights across SKY include the return of Next Top Model on Living, the start of Friday Night Lights on Atlantic and Spartacus: Vengeance will run on SKY1.

So do we think the above is enough to put an end of the viewing slump all stations experienced at the beginning of the year? I don’t feel like any station has the “next big thing” in their schedules but who would have thought that Mrs. Browns Boys would attract 2 million more viewing on BBC than Jonathan Ross interviewing David Beckham on ITV. I do think the schedules offer increased Irish home produced content and new shows to the market which will appeal to a diverse audience.  With several places for viewers to be able to watch TV content now, it is important that the broadcasters continue to offer something unique to viewers.

Sarah Murphy – Broadcast Director

*Image courtesy of user miamiamia at sxc.hu

As always, if you have any opinions- supporting or conflicting- on this post or related matters we’d love to hear from you, so please feel free to post replies below.

Long-form content not quite past its sell-by date

A recent posting on the iMedia website on “What the decline of print means for digital”, suggested that the printed news format (if we are to believe research amongst 58 major US marketers) is in for an even more torrid time. The new research says that (surprise, surprise) “visual information” is on the rise and articles, columns and long-form content, to name but three, are on the decline.

This may be largely a US phenomenon because there are still examples in the Irish market where must-read columnists, long opinion pieces and in-depth analysis are the ingredients that still attract a strong core of influential print readers. The Irish Times, Irish Independent and Sunday Times, are all cases in point. But the one that really contradicts the received wisdom that ‘long-form content’ and ‘columns’ are dead is the Sunday Independent.

The late and great Aengus Fanning, who edited the paper for 28 years, always managed to defy conventions on so many fronts and ‘digital conventions’ are no different. The Sunday Independent was and continues to be a success built on a formula of personality, opinion and comment, spiced up with a large mix of glamour and gossip.

Aengus and his editorial team have established a unique print-based formula that has engendered as much loathing as it has an avid following. But whatever one’s position, it still has that unmissable draw that many media owners lose sight of at their peril.

Yes, press and print output may be literally flat and two-dimensional but the Sunday Independent and indeed a few other Irish newspapers and magazines are proof that the medium, metaphorically at least, doesn’t have to fall into the same trap.

Peter McPartlin – Strategic Director

*Image courtesy of user somadjinn at www.sxc.hu

As always, if you have any opinions- supporting or conflicting- on this post or related matters we’d love to hear from you, so please feel free to post replies below.

Super Bowl Ads Still Giant and Patriotic

It’s that time of year again, when America and indeed much of the rest of the world sit up and take note of the Super Bowl where, this year, the New York Giants take on the New England Patriots. But the game itself is not where our interest lies (although here are some big hit highlights for you anyway because we’re nice like that)…

The real battle is taking place during the many breaks in play- the battle of the advertisers. Coca Cola versus Pepsi. Chevy versus Chrysler. Ferris Bueller versus- wait, what?

These days, Super Bowl ads are a tradition in their own right and they epitomise the harmony that exists between the mediums of TV and online. Yes, everyone still watches the ads during the match in America while the rest of the world needs to watch them online, but we also now find that every year many of the ads are available online before they air live. Some are released in full and some are drip-fed to us in teaser form. This creates a massive buzz among people online and gains much of that Holy Grail for advertisers- earned media. There are even websites that are purely dedicated to the viewing, rating and slating of Super Bowl ads.

This year, some of the biggest online buzz has followed a teaser campaign centred on Mathew Broderick reprising his role as Ferris Bueller from that 80’s classic. Much speculation surrounded what brand the full ad would reveal and, once it was discovered that it would be for Honda, speculation kicked off again as to what creative idea would be executed and, finally, the full video was revealed online. At the time of writing, both the teaser and the full video already have over 5 million views on YouYube. This is before the first live TV airing during the match has even taken place.

It would be unforgivable to waste the opportunities afforded online here as the cost for just a single 30 second TV spot during this massive event can reach a staggering $3.5m. The cost of leveraging this with online activity pales in comparison, while the benefits are plain to see.

Enjoy the action on Sunday night- oh and the football too…

Daniel Murphy – Planning

*Image courtesy of user vanrooy at www.flickr.com

As always, if you have any opinions- supporting or conflicting- on this post or related matters we’d love to hear from you, so please feel free to post replies below.