-Can you give me a brief summary/bio of your life/work history? Family. Work experience with Media Sales.
Prior to media, after I left college I went over to America for a while where I started out in retail banking moving to Bank of Ireland before doing a Marketing course and transitioning to advertising sales, I am now over 20 years in media sales, starting in TV with UTV sales in Dublin moving into cinema sales with Carlton Screen Advertising, who were sold by UK parent, bought by Irish investors in 2009, considerable change involved with that and the numerous challenges as cinema moved from 35mm to digital, rebranded as Wide Eye Media and started our Out of Home development in 2014. In 2015 the iconic cinema advertising company Pearl and Dean joined the group, over the last few years have seen further growth in cinema advertising revenue and launch of Wide Eye Outdoor culminating in our merger with Adtower in Nov 2020 to make us the largest DOOH network in the country, that coupled with some strategic adjustments within our digital offering, Packed House, have made for a busy 2021. So Covid has thrown up some business challenges and definitely busier but really excited about development plans for the group in the year ahead and into 2022.
-What can happen in your typical day at Packed.House?
Typical day is walk/run with dog (yes a Covid addition), breakfast and then teams/zoom meetings, lunch and the same again for the pm. For last few months I have started going into the office for 2 days a week and more recently having meetings with clients and suppliers. I work with a great team across Wide Eye Media, Wide Eye Outdoor and Packed House, who have been through a lot with the Pandemic, has impacted all of us as we have rolled up our sleeves, involved us all adapting to new work practices, revenue challenges with an industry shutting down, so keeping in touch and will all is essential
-In terms of the Cinema industry, generally speaking, where do you see that going into the future? What is the most exciting thing on the horizon for that industry, in your opinion?
I am very positive about the outlook, we need to learn to live with Covid and cinemas are well placed to adapt and cinemas are a key element of the exhibition and studio film release ecosystem. Post pandemic cinemas have occupancy restrictions of 50 per screen and 2 m distancing and still we are tracking over last few weeks at 60% of 2019 audiences. Globally no outbreaks have been traced to cinemas. This is an industry that has invested a huge amount of money in ensuring their patrons are entering a safe environment, bear in mind all patrons are forward facing, all locations have air conditioning running, so every effort is being made. Cinema and streaming have to work together and there is a realization that both can work together, studios want to control the release patterns on their content so they are all either in streaming or about to launch streaming options, however they all know that the economics of studios mean that they will not make same money on streaming so they need to work with cinemas. On the horizon we are looking at a steady stream of great films that can only be enjoyed in cinema, a number of cinema owners are investing in new sites, improved sites, with enhanced customer amenities , like quality seating or food and beverage options.
-Is Digital Media impacting on Out-of-House. How can it work in tandem with Outdoor.
Strategically we are only focused on digital out of home, so from a tech perspective it has had an impact from day one, our Adtower network has been able to provide live audience data since for years and is a core usp, allowing better targeting more importantly richer campaign feedback and analysis. From a trading perspective, other markets have made significant developments in programmatic, in Ireland we work very closely with specialists like Talon and PML/Source
-How does the Irish Out-of House market differ to other markets across the world? Where do you see it going and how do you see it evolving?
In Ireland, a lot of great inventory has come on to the market in 2021, and going forward we expect more large format digital investment in 2022, due to a variety of reasons has not been the level of investment one would have expected.
-How well does the IAB serve the Irish Industry? What could they do to better assist the Irish Digital Media Businesses
Any interaction through our digital estate has been very positive, for example the gold standard implementation. There are nascent steps around DOOH we look forward to having a wider relationship with IAB.
-Do you see new platforms evolving and if so, what do you envisage that these will look like?
Covid has fuelled significant further digitization within Cinema and DOOH , so some exciting developments in both those industries. Radio has had an interesting year, revenues holding up during Covid and with Bauer coming into the market typically that type of activity fosters change and development within a sector. Connected TV is getting more and more column inches, interesting to see if the Sky Glass development will speed up change and increase revenues.
-What is your view on how media is sold in Ireland? Is that changing?
Ireland has highly competitive media market across all sectors, that is chasing a limited pool of investment. As has been commented on by a number of times by others in the industry, for a country of our size and an economy of our size, marketing investment and specifically media buying investment is not at the level it should be. We have audiences being sold way to cheaply, external factors like impact of UK media and the dominance of Google and Facebook distorting media pricing.
The reality is this will be an ongoing issue and one that an open economy like ours that is impacted so heavily by our next door neighbour has to deal with.
-How do you see the advertising scene operating in Ireland in the near future and 5 years from now?
Media sales are only one sector within advertising and as an industry we have all dealt with the same issues referenced above, consistent efforts by the likes of IAPI to really get clients to look at the value of creative are vital, with efforts to date the future does look bright
-Will there be a need for Media buying houses etc?
Always a need for expertise, with the plethora of choices available it is imperative buying houses are there to ensure all the money isn’t spent on the wrong media.
-How competitive is the Media Sales Business for online advertising?
Referenced above, there are 2 markets, Google/Facebook and the Irish digital industry, again key imperative is communicating the value of the audience.
-Have you got any insights you want to share with our readers as to where you think content is going? What will audiences be drawn to?
Regarding content, valuing experts and being willing to pay for that insight/content is the content conundrum, we want quality to win out so we can see a return on our investment. Some real improvements in output around sport and gaming over the last while, GAA is still underserved.
-How do you see podcasting and video evolving as platforms? Are you happy with Packed.House’s experience to date?
A lot of output around podcasting but numbers are still low, it sits as a nice adjunct to radio the more indepth interview etc.. Without that cross channel promotion it is a very competitive place, you have local as well as international competition. In Packed House some great work has been done with the REVISIT series with Brian Lloyd and Dee Molumby has a new series in the works. We are putting a lot of focus into gaming and linking that in with video and had some great results with AnPost this year with a number of new developments for 2022
-Is there a lot of difference across European regions in terms of what both advertisers and consumers want in Cinema? How does Cinema in Ireland compare to Cinema in the UK?
We have been hit by Covid, closed for 23 weeks last year and 23 weeks this year, we are getting back on our feet, some great films due for release. We still have the highest cinema attendance per head of population for the last number of years, 2022 will see at least 6 new cinemas opening in Ireland, so a good year ahead.
-Most Digital Publications will need advertising to survive. What do you think is a way to ensure continued advertising support in Irish Publications?
See my previous comments, re quality and the balance between paying for it and not, would also note my point about pricing and value of the audience.
-How has Covid impacted on your various Businesses’ revenues and operations?
Cinema was the hardest hit but all impacted in some way, we are coming back and 2022 looks strong
-Digital Out-of-House appears to have performed very well as a medium during the Covid Pandemic. Do you think it can retain the eyeballs gained?
Yes and its going to grow, a lot of investment going into DOOH, it is a proven format for audience engagement and delivers that inventory flexibility that clients are looking for.