I’m Pinterested, Are You?

Megan's Pinterest

I set up my account for Pinterest last year having heard about the site from a number of blogs I read. I wasn’t really sure what to expect at first. Pinterest unlike Facebook or Twitter didn’t come with an intuitive user manual. It wasn’t for socialising with friends near and far like I use Facebook for or keeping up with the latest news like Twitter.

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5 Reasons to Have a Content Marketing Strategy This Year

Elements of a content marketing strategy
According to Google Trends, searches for terms related to Content Marketing have increased by over 80% during the past 12 months.   This shouldn’t really come as a surprise, after all, content is the ONLY reason that people consume media.   The internet is fundamentally based on content and individuals & brands have been creating content since day dot.  So why is Content Marketing getting so much airtime lately? 
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Will 2013 be Digital’s ‘coming-of-age’ year in Ireland?

Surfing the digital wave

Image: Chausinho

Digital advertising in Ireland is on the up, hooray!  Open the champagne.  But wait a minute. Let’s not congratulate ourselves too much. Ireland is still lagging significantly behind other European markets in terms of advertiser investment in online.

The latest IAB / PwC Study predicts that digital won’t become the lead medium in Ireland in terms of advertising investment until 2016.  If correct, this is a very poor projection indeed.  Digital overtook TV as the biggest medium in the UK in 2010 which puts Ireland at least 6 years behind our nearest neighbour.

The assertion from some quarters that this is because Ireland is a less mature market than the UK simply isn’t true.  To a large degree it is the advertising market (clients and their agencies) that have failed to evolve properly, not Irish consumers.

The reality is that Irish consumers have always kept pace with changes in technology so much so that the recent Mediascope Study (again from IAB Ireland) revealed that they demonstrate online usage levels well above the European average.

They jumped enthusiastically on the ‘wave of technology’ that arrived on our shores a number of years ago and it’s the savviest advertisers and agencies that followed them that are now reaping the real benefits of this ‘brave new world.’  A world, by the way, which is now very much the norm for most of us.

Advertisers and agencies that were too slow to or didn’t even bother to wax down their surf boards are now paddling frantically to catch-up.  And even today, some still continue to downplay the very obvious fact that the tide has truly turned and allocate minimal spends to their digital activity.

It is this disconnect between how advertisers and their agencies plan campaigns and how actual consumers behave that is, in my view, the greatest challenge the industry in Ireland faces.

All agencies, regardless of their alignment or specialty have a responsibility to ensure that the out-dated, linear approach to media and creative planning which has always put offline executions first and treated digital as something to be ‘bolted on’ on ‘looked at later’ is let go of once and for all.

Solutions to briefs should be borne out of an objective approach to actually answering the brief – not the crude media and creative budget carve up that defined the Celtic Tiger hey day, when spend targets sometimes seemed more important than delivering results for the client.

And you’d think that in the cold light of the recession that particular party would be well and truly over.  Take quick glance, however, at Nielsen Adspend data and you’ll notice that some of the biggest brands in the market and still making shocking over investments in some media and a worrying under investment in other, much more important areas.

But don’t get me wrong, there are some excellent examples of truly objective and joined-up thinking happening in many areas.  What I’m simply trying to say is that these should be the norm, not something we’re still aspiring to.

Let’s stop paying lip service to what is now so fundamental to the future of our sector and double our commitment to genuine integration and development of our talent to deal with the new reality.There’s a lot riding on it – our industries reputation, employment and jobs, a return to growth and the long term sustainability of indigenous industry – both our own and our client’s

So, digital will obviously continue to grow and play a bigger role, but only if the advertising sector in Ireland makes a genuine effort to grow-up with it.


Double Gold At Appys for ICAN Win

Image of awards

ICAN Win, our competition application for Facebook Pages, certainly lived up to its name by taking home two awards at the Appys last week. It won gold in two categories, Best Social Media App and Best Facebook App.

Built as a white label application and using a customised content management system, it allows clients to easily manage competitions on their Facebook Pages. Page admins have full control of not only the look and feel, but also the competition mechanics. For example, it allows photo upload, multiple choice and free form competition entries. This allows admins to keep the content fresh which maximises engagement over a long period of time. It is fully reskinable so that new designs can easily be applied. Despite the depth of functionality, it has been designed to be very user friendly for non technical users. It’s mobile friendly and uses responsive design so that it is accessible across all screen sizes.

SEO: Going Beyond Page Content

Search Engine Optimisation – or SEO – is chiefly concerned with the effective use of keyword density within the content of a web page. The higher the relevance to popular keywords this content has, the higher the page ranks within a search engine’s results; this is the key aim for any SEO work.

Content optimisation doesn’t only apply to the text within the body of the page however; any SEO worker with a degree of past success will also optimise (i.e. increase the density of popular keywords) various other off-page elements, paying particular attention to a page’s Meta tags.

One area that often gets overlooked is the application of an SEO mindset to the design of a website’s structure during the development stages. Search engine rankings will also be determined by the optimisation levels of the HTML used to create the pages, the load speed, any images embedded into a page, as well as the URL or file naming conventions and structures used.

Let’s take a look at these in a little more detail to see how web development can also be optimised under the SEO umbrella.

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DBS – Make Yourself Most Wanted

With the new academic career approaching we wanted to position DBS as a college responsive to students’ needs. Students today need to feel confident that when graduate they’ll be wanted by employers. In the fast-paced environment of today’s world that means picking up a relevant and diverse skillset. Our insight was based on this.

The campaign
Our campaign worked through the line. The executions concentrated on individual students and how DBS could help them achieve what they wanted in today’s world. To reflect this, the look and feel of the campaign was contemporary. This worked from outdoor, press and radio through to online and social.

School-leavers, parents, working professionals, jobseekers, those wishing to upskill or reskill

Outdoor, Press, Radio, Online, Social.

ICAN shortlisted for Best Web Design & Development Agency

The shortlist for the 2012 eircom Spiders was published yesterday and we’re delighted to have been shortlisted in three categories:

  • Best Web Design & Development Agency
  • Best Social Media Interaction (for the Jameson global Facebook page)
  • Best User Experience (for


Here’s our video entry for Best Web Design & Development Agency, let us know what you think in the comments:



Best of luck to all of the other nominees!  We’ll see you on the night :)


Chairs are like Facebook

Today, Facebook announced it has reached 1,000,000,000 users. That’s a lot of people poking, tagging and clicking “like if you think this kitten is cute”!  So to celebrate, Zuckerberg has released Facebook’s first ever ad campaign “The Things That Connect Us”.

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Adland #4 – Autumnal Special

There are two great things about autumn. The first is that it marks the end of the miserable Irish summer. No more hope for sunshine now. From here on in we’re accepting of our faith of bad weather, and we’re all the better for it.  The 2nd great thing about autumn is the word we use to describe it – autumnal. This is a word that sounds so good that it far surpasses the season itself. I’m paying tribute to it by naming this month’s Adland post after it. Here’s a look at some campaigns from the past month.

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CAB Conference 2012: Google’s Brand New Vision for Media

Last week, ICAN was invited to attend Google’s annual EMEA Doubleclick Client Advisory Board.

The venue was Marbella in Spain but while the sun was scorching outside, most of the action took place under the artificial glow of PowerPoint slides in the air-conditioned conference hall.

CAB is unique because it’s where senior Google Execs share their strategic vision and product roadmap for the next 12 months with key publishers, advertisers and agencies.  Delegates then have the opportunity to challenge, question, and give open, honest feedback.

These exclusive sessions come with an informal agreement that if Google is willing to share their product developments plans, then the delegates should return the favour by not tweeting furiously about the specifics every time they flash up on screen.  Fair enough.  In digital, competitive advantage is everything.

At a broad level then, the most interesting piece of news was that robust online branding & audience measurement will become a reality in 2013.  These new measurement capabilities will allow advertisers to directly compare online audience reach (and visibility) with offline media, on a like-for-like basis, using the standard GRP (gross rating point) system.

The need to measure the branding impact of digital is nothing new.  It’s something publishers and agencies have been crying-out for, for a long time. Finally, Google seems to agree and is investing heavily to help unlock the millions of Euros still being (over) invested in other media, particularly TV.

If this comes off, and becomes the new standard, it really will be a game-changer.  It will help to remove the damaging, direct response mind-set that restricts growth in the industry and push digital closer to becoming the lead branding channel.

Another development is that the Doubleclick suite of digital tools ( display, real-time bidding, search, re-marketing and analytics) will become fully integrated within a single unified platform.  Taking these tools out of their individual ‘software silos’ will allow  agencies to manage campaigns and work-flow more efficiently and make better, insight-driven decisions.  As digital media continues to fragment and agencies groan under the weight of reporting from multiple sources, the potential benefits of this are significant.

Other items included a lively panel discussion with client, publisher and agency representatives and a rather confused Q&A with a guest speaker from the European Commission on the EU Privacy Directive.  This particular session raised more questions than it actually answered.  It did however reinforce the need to directly influence the policy makers that affect our industry as early in the process as possible.

It wasn’t all work and no play too.  In between the product demos, there was time for networking over glasses of Cava, fine dining by the pool-side and some interesting entertainment that combined Flamenco dancing with some pretty cool light sabres (‘Star-menco’ as someone called it.)

This year’s CAB gave a unique opportunity to engage directly with a key player in the advertising market and learn how they plan to respond to the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.

From all that I gathered, Google seem committed to taking everything they’ve learned to date to push their brand new vision for media to the next level in the next 12 months.