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Outlook 21

This year, we will be issuing a series of reports that will address the key issues facing the marketing industry. This report is the first in the series, which provides an overview of advertising investment levels in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland for 2020 and 2021.

When Covid-19 hit us with full force last March, things looked bleak. Advertising investment in the Republic of Ireland fell by a remarkable 48% during the second quarter, compared with the same period in 2019. Some campaigns restarted in Q3, but overall demand was down by 29%. However, an extraordinary flurry of marketing activity happened in the final quarter, resulting in a massive 15% increase in spending compared with Q4 2019, despite the onset of a second lockdown.

It is true that many advertisers had unspent budgets that ‘needed to be used,’ but the extent of the rebound was unprecedented.

Typically, when an economic shock occurs, advertising investment levels take months, if not years to recover.

However, this time, rather than advertising lagging economic growth, businesses turned to marketing to drive recovery. This may be an indication of a turning point in how marketing is viewed in boardrooms, but only time will tell.

Alan Cox

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Total Media Market 2021

Forecasts for Total Media Market


An overview of the total media spend in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland for the years 2019-2021.

Video and TV Investment 2021

Forecasts for Video Market


An overview of the media spend on TV, online video and cinema in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland for the years 2019-2021.

Online and Digital Investment 2021

Forecasts for Online Market


An overview of the media spend on digital, social and search in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland for the years 2019-2021.

Audio and Radio Investment 2021

Forecasts for Audio Market


An overview of the media spend on digital audio and radio in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland for the years 2019-2021.

News Media Investment 2021

Forecasts for News Media Market


An overview of the media spend on print and digital news in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland for the years 2019-2021.

Out-Of-Home Investment 2021

Forecasts for Out-Of-Home (OOH) Advertising Market


An overview of the media spend on out-of-home media in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland for the years 2019-2021.

Future of Media

Another key development this year will be the publication (in the summer) of the Future of Media Commission’s report into how public service aims can be delivered and funded through media over the next ten years. This is a hugely important body of work; it is crucial that Ireland has a healthy, balanced and diverse media environment, with a strong bedrock of widely accessible public-interest content to achieve the following goals:


Through investigative journalism and a commitment to public-interest news, by reporting crimes, unearthing corruption and driving out misinformation. This is so important in an age where the truth can so easily be distorted through social media posts and biased reporting.


The media play an important role in maintaining a healthy, functioning democracy by informing, educating and mobilising the public; therefore, keeping them engaged in politics, social issues, the economy and the role of government.


Media play a pivotal role in building a sense of community and highlighting the wonderful, and increasingly diverse, aspects of life in Ireland. These characteristics of who we are and how we live are precious and should be celebrated and encouraged.

These goals can only be achieved, in full, through a pluralistic media market, which includes well-resourced indigenous media that are focussed on servicing the needs of the Irish public.

However, the advertising revenue needed to generate high-quality content of relevance to the Irish public, is in major decline.

To illustrate the extent of the funding issue, it is useful to look at what has happened over the last twenty years. In the year 2000, the total amount of advertising money invested in media in the Republic of Ireland was circa €630 million. Circa 96% of this went to indigenous media. In 2020, the total market spend was circa €903 million, with indigenous media’s share falling to 49%. Therefore, over the last two decades, the level of annual advertising support for the indigenous sector has fallen by €162 million.

The prognosis for the future is concerning. Without government intervention, the number of indigenous outlets, and the range of what they cover, will continue to shrink. We should not allow commercial market forces to shape the media landscape in Ireland, because this will eventually lead to market failure, with the breadth and depth of public-interest content being significantly compromised.  We look forward with optimism to the Commission’s  report.

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