The amount spent on digital ads in Ireland should overtake traditional media this year

US researchers have predicted more than half the near-billion euro spend on ads will head online.

By Conor McMahon Deputy editor, Fora

FOR THE FIRST time ever, advertisers in Ireland are expected to spend more on digital advertising than commercials in traditional forms of media this year.

According to New York-headquartered media research firm, eMarketer, Irish advertisers are tipped to spend €433 million on digital ads this year, up 12% on 2016′s tally.

More than half of the near-billion euro being spent on ads will go towards various online campaigns. Ireland has had the fastest-growing digital advertising market in Europe in recent years.

However Facebook and Google are expected to be the main beneficiaries of the digital advertising boom, with the two firms dominating social media display and search advertising respectively.

Analysts at eMarketer, who complied the agency’s first-ever digital ad spend forecast for Ireland, said the key driver for digital’s growth was ”advertiser enthusiasm for mobile”. Marketers are tipped to spend €297 million on mobile ads this year.

Researchers estimated that mobile will claim 62% of all digital ad spending in Ireland in 2017 and will represent nearly 80% of digital spend by 2021.

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Principal eMarketer analyst Karin von Abrams said: “Thanks in part to a tech-savvy, outward-looking young population, Ireland has outpaced many other developed economies in terms of how much advertising and marketing spend is devoted to digital channels.”

Von Abrams said 2017 will be “a tricky year” for Irish marketers, largely because the island’s biggest trading partner, the UK, will begin the process of leaving the EU.

However, she said, “Ireland’s commitment to digital infrastructure and processes means it’s well equipped for that challenge.”

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Growth rate

While growth in digital ad spend will continue to outpace other forms of media, the annual rate of growth in the sector will shrink over the coming years, according to eMarketer.

This year, digital ad spend will grow 20%, eight percentage points down on 2016′s figure. Within the next five years, digital ad spending growth will drop to just over 5% per annum.

Eddie O’Mahony – chief trading officer at Core Media, Ireland’s largest ad buying agency – said in an interview with Fora last month that growth in digital ad spend is slowing down but that its overall share was still likely to increase significantly.

“We’re about four or five years behind the UK where the digital share is near 40%,” he said at the time. “It will take us another few years to get there so there’s a lot of room for growth in terms of that share that digital gets.”