The latest Irish digital marketing and social media stats for 2018…

Irish Digital & Social Media Stats 2018

Hi, I’m Shane. You might remember me from such reports as ‘Irish Digital Consumer Report 2015‘ or ‘Irish Digital Consumer Report 2017‘!

For the last few years I’ve put together a yearly report on how Ireland is adopting digital and social media at a rapid rate, and how our indigenous businesses are lagging behind.

This process was always part selfish and part altruistic. Proper stats that told the tale of the growth in Irish digital consumption were hard to come by, and I wanted to have a document that could give me the latest bits at my fingertips. So I decided to stick it together and also send it out for free each year.

However, given that I’m currently working in one of Ireland’s largest media groups, I have more than enough brilliant, incisive (and proprietary) media data at my fingertips that I can chop and use to understand the online habits of Irish consumers and businesses.

(If you’re a larger business and want to pay for access to GroupM or Mindshare’s excellent and wide ranging media consumption research studies for a brilliant price, please email me.)

Another part of the reason why I stopped putting out the report was that it all became a bit trite. We know that smartphone usage and broadband access is very high here. We know we’re all addicted to Facebook and heavy social media users. We know Irish businesses could be doing more. So small changes in percentages each year seemed like minor waves as part of a bigger trend. Likewise, most data put out in PR format has some element of bias to it. As we know, Facebook, YouTube etc all have their own agenda when communicating with the public.

And in tandem, my role has changed considerably over the last few years from one that focused very much on digital and social tactics, to now taking a much broader focus on marketing/business strategy and communications effectiveness across all channels.

As a wise man once said, ‘it’s increasingly not about digital marketing, but just doing smart marketing in a digital world’.

They’re two very different things.

However, I do get a handful of people (mostly students and small businesses) landing on my site each week and sending emails asking for up to date data.

With that in mind, this time around I’ve decided just to do a simple blog post that points people in the direction of some of the latest publicly available info. I don’t unfortunately have the time or inclination to do a large report this time around, but this is pretty much the same thing without the pretty pictures and editorial!

Hopefully it proves helpful. If it does, please share it with others…

The stats below are taken from publicly available reports or articles. As per usual, I’ve done no real work here except collation, so please thank and follow the people who put out these brilliant data sources every year!

One more caveat – It’s also important to make the point that none of these stats should be taken in isolation. A proper marketing strategy should start with media neutrality and not be biased towards one channel from the outset. It should take into account the unique media consumption habits of your audience. We all need to understand how digital and social media can overlap with other channels to create a halo effect of integration. These stats should not be used alone to make a big business or marketing decision. They should maybe provide one factor in a much broader discussion around how and when you should use digital or social tactics as part of a wider framework of communication. As always, please do your own due diligence!

With that in mind, here are some of the most useful and most notable Irish digital marketing and social media stats in 2018. Steal with pride!

And if you would be so kind as to share it on Twitter and Linkedin that would be a great help! 

Irish Digital Marketing and Social Media Stats 2018

Reuters Digital News Report 2017

  • 32% of Irish media consumers visited in the last week.
  • 4% of Irish consumers have an ongoing news subscription.
  • 29% of Irish internet users have installed an adblocker. The fourth highest number in the survey.
  • 53% of Irish consumers use their smartphone for news.
  • 41% use Facebook for news.

IPSOS MRBI Social Networking/Messaging 2017

  • 65% of adults aged 15+ have a Facebook account. 45% of these use it daily, but this is decreasing rapidly.
  • Over 600 thousand adults aged 15+ in the Republic of Ireland use Instagram on a daily basis.
  • 61% of adults aged 15+ have a WhatsApp account.
  • 1.4 million adults aged 15+ in the Republic of Ireland use WhatsApp on a daily basis.
  • 57% of adults aged 15+ have a FB Messenger account.
  • Snapchat account holders are most likely to be daily active users. 66% open the app daily.

CSO Information Society 2017

  • It is estimated that, in 2017, 89% of households have access to the internet at home.
  • The main reasons stated for not having a household internet connection were Do not need internet (45%) and Lack of skills (43%).
  • Seven out of every ten internet users used the internet every day.
  • Daily usage of the internet has increased nine percentage points since 2013.
  • Clothes or sports goods were the most popular online purchase in 2017, purchased by 44% of individuals.
  • Over one quarter (26%) of individuals purchased online six or more times in the previous three months.

We Are Social Digital in 2018

  • 89% of Irish consumers believe data privacy and protection are very important.
  • 45% delete cookies from their internet browser regularly.
  • 85% of Irish people over 18 use the internet daily.
  • 37% of Irish people access the internet most often via a smartphone.
  • 9% play games on their smartphone weekly.
  • 42% watch online videos every day.
  • 28% watch online content streamed on a TV set.
  • 59% have purchased a product or service online in past 30 days.

Deloitte Global Mobile Consumer Survey 2017

  • 90% of the population have access to a smartphone.
  • Smartphone users in Ireland check their devices 57 times a day.
  • 44% of people check their smartphones during the night.
  • 40% check their device within five minutes of waking up.
  • 45% of consumers have a smart television.
  • 71% have access to a tablet.
  • Samsung is the top brand of smartphone in Ireland, with 32% owning the brand.
  • 33% have used biometrics to access their phone.

Google Consumer Barometer 2017

  • 85% of internet users have watched ‘regular’ TV on a TV set in the last month.
  • 36% have watched catch-up or on-demand on a TV set in the last month.
  • 66% of internet users go online via another device while watching TV.
  • 35% watch videos via their smartphone every day.
  • 29% have watched online videos out of home in the past week.

Thanks for reading, and please feel free to share with others!

If you want more of this good stuff, you can sign up for my regular marketing newsletter here for book recommendations, links to great articles and my latest thoughts on the industry. Over 1900 Irish marketers are signed up. You should be too.

If you want to discuss or add anything to the above, please get in touch.



Prioritisation and opportunity cost – what Sun Tzu and a donkey can teach us about strategy…

“There is no higher and simpler law of strategy than keeping one’s forces concentrated.” Carl von Clausewitz, On War

“You gain more by finding a rich mine and mining it deeper, than by flitting from one shallow mine to another. Intensity defeats ‘extensity’ every time.”
Robert Greene, The 48 Laws Of Power

“There are roads which must not be followed, armies which must not be attacked, towns which must not be besieged, positions which must not be contested, commands of the sovereign which must not be obeyed.”
Sun Tzu, The Art Of War


A tired donkey is standing in a field, exactly halfway between a tasty bale of hay and a thirst quenching bucket of water. He’s been working all day, and can’t wait to tuck into both.

But there’s a problem. 

The donkey can’t decide which treat he wants to tuck into first.

Equally hungry and thirsty, he tries to make his mind up.

Like a Wimbeldon fan watching a tennis match, he starts looking left and right, left and right incessantly. It’s a tough choice and he’s unable to decide between either.

Time passes.

Eventually, paralysed by choice, the donkey keels over and dies from starvation and thirst.

This is the tale of ‘Buridian’s Ass‘, a well worn fable that outlines the importance of being active and choosing a path.

And it’s a good metaphor for strategists to keep in mind.

Status Quo Bias

One of the most pervasive issues within business is not being deliberate enough. It results in the status quo bias.

It’s too easy to blindly accept and not question. So a lot of things just compound without much thought being put into why they’re done that way. Nobody shouts stop because everyone thinks someone else has made an active choice to do it this way. But often inertia is the sole reason.

But we must be active, mindful and specific when making strategic decisions, not passive and accepting of the status quo. That’s the crux of good strategy.

Strategic success is a result of intensity, concentration, single-mindedness and willpower. It’s focusing your energy and resources on the things that really matter.

Opportunity Cost


Therefore, one of the most important theories for a strategist to understand is the idea of ‘opportunity cost’. It means that for every single choice, whether implicit or explicit, there’s a best alternative foregone, another option that could’ve been taken.

As one of the most famous strategists of all time Michael Porter says:

“The essence of strategy is deciding what not to do”

To decide what not to do, we need to be aware that there’s an associated cost with everything we choose to do.

As strategists, we create value by focusing orienting businesses in a way that mitigates and lessens opportunity cost. We weigh up all the options and deliver a path forward in a concise, logical way.

An ineffective strategist is one who’s afraid to be decisive and to deliver a clear direction. Or at least doesn’t have the confidence, charisma and political savvy to sell their direction. All too often we blunt our thinking, when a major part of our job description is about sharp defined choices.

This concept applies to both life choices and business choices. We’d all love to have unlimited time, money and resources. If that were the case, we’d all be brilliant strategists. But constraints mean hard choices have to be made.

Even the largest companies must make explicit choices to compete in some places and not in others. Trade offs are an inherent part of life. They can’t be ignored, they should be embraced. The nettle must be grasped.


Too often in modern business we wander from goal to goal. Short term scale and growth is the crack cocaine of the stock market. Businesses become addicted to chasing these things and spread themselves too thin. In marketing, we act like magpies, mistaking tactics for a clear strategy, and chasing after the shiny new tool to use.

But in business, what is dissapated and divided fails. What is concentrated and coherent succeeds.

The 80/20 principle tells us that certain efforts provide exponentially better results than others. Our job is to find out what those efforts are and focus on them.

If you’re fragmenting your resources, you’re probably doing nothing well. Good strategy is about actively making tough choices, avoiding the scourge of multitasking.

A choice to serve everyone is a losing choice.

Trying to be everything to everyone means you’re nothing.

If everything is a priority, nothing is.








The scourge of channel thinking – it’s about the idea stupid!

The biggest scourge in modern adland isn’t lack of budget.

It’s not encroachment on our business from consultancies or Google/FB/Amazon.

It’s not the talent war or our awful record in promoting diversity.

It’s self inflicted.

It’s the fact that so many marketers inside and outside agencies avoid big picture thinking.

It’s funny how you can’t remember big things, yet some small things stick with you forever. The words of a wise ad man I once worked with are imprinted on my brain.

We were in a pitch kick off meeting.

The type where conversation flows with ideas around how we might approach the brief.

Some of the younger heads in the room had discussed some social media thoughts at length.

Noticeably quiet throughout, our curmudgeonly old friend finally piped up at the end with this gem:

“Forget channels, gadgets, social, digital or new technologies. It’s about the idea, stupid!”

We could all do with some of that advice now.

The cartoon above from the inimitable and brilliant Tom Fishburne perfectly encapsulates what I’m talking about.

Sure we laugh at it. But it’s also an insight into the type of conversation that goes on in boardrooms across the world.

Agencies, tasked with coming up with a big, juicy creative solution to business problems respond with ill thought out tactical ideas –

“We’ll do some digital”

“We’ll build an app”

“We’ll use Snapchat!”

“360 video is the answer!”

“We’ll get an influencer”

But the medium is not the idea. As Tom Goodwin says, “we’ve become distracted by what can be done, not what makes sense” for our brands.

Limited thinking

To start with a channel based idea is to instantly limit your thinking. It means going straight to tactics without even thinking about good strategy.

It means lazily avoiding coming up with a big, bold, flexible creative idea or platform.

This excellent Linkedin posts sums up the point. (I’d also add that big data is not a big idea.)

Don’t get me wrong, great ideas need to live within channels. Great tactics bring great strategies to life. A big idea is nothing without a supporting cast of hundreds of small ideas that communicate it.

But execution should be an afterthought, not the place we start.

Why is this happening?

I believe there are four main reasons for the rise of “the scourge of channel thinking”.

First, channel bias means many agencies are pre-disposed to only thinking about solutions that reflect their specialities.

Social agencies see Facebook as the answer to every brief when the brand’s audience actually live elsewhere.

Big traditional creative agencies see TV as a necessity when a tweak to a brand’s user journey could be much more effective.

The big picture is avoided and the blinkers never get taken off, resulting in biased, ineffective ideas.

But when you see all problems in the same way and propose the same channel solution, then you aren’t being creative. Your ideas will almost always be analogous rather than being truly fresh.

Real creativity requires understanding that a big idea must work everywhere, and isn’t based on using a new channel or technology.

Secondly, this growing channel led executional approach is a result of awards chasing. Every year we see Cannes Lion winning ideas that do nothing for the brand’s business, bar garnering PR.

I’ve seen agencies try to fit a brand campaign into a new technology that they’ve bought into, not because it suits the brief, but because they believe it could be award winning.

To me that’s both stupid, but also ethically wrong.

It’s also partly a result of short-termism. The need for instant results has never been stronger in marketing. And thus, we rely on the crutch of channel thoughts rather than coming up with big, bold, longer term brand ideas.

(Ironically, a brilliant paradox outlined by Binet and Field is that long term thinking actually delivers better results in both the long AND short term.)

It’s also a result of the ‘availability bias’. Something new and cool launches (Facebook canvas, Insta Stories, Snapchat spectacles, 360 video) and everyone rushes to be the first brand to use it, fearful of being left behind. But just because something exists and sounds cool doesn’t mean it fits into a creative platform.

So what’s the answer?

Let’s remain channel neutral at least until that big idea has been decided. By all means, then move onto what this might look like in specific channels.

But the idea has to come first.

Idea uber alles.

That’s something that all good agency people implicitly understand, but it’s slowly being lost.

Matt Holt of Ogilvy UK sums it up perfectly:


Channels and platforms are the equivalent of creative canvases that we paint on.

But they’re benign without a strong creative idea.

It’s up to us as marketers to get creative, build cool things on top of them, to understand them, test them and sometimes break them.

But just using a new channel can’t be ‘the big idea’ on its own.

When agencies are at our best, we’re coming up with big, risky, uncomfortable creative ideas.

A great big idea offers an ‘Aha’ moment.

It unlocks the mind and removes constraints. You know a great big idea when you hear one, because straight away you can think of hundreds of possible channel focused ways to communicate it.

Mark Pritchard, one of the most powerful marketers and most important marketing agitators of modern times, summed it up perfectly with his recent quote on P&G’s approach:

“We try to no longer think of digital as something separate that we tack on at the end of the campaign. We also try to resist thinking about digital in terms of the tools, platforms, QR codes, augmented reality, holograms or whatever’s coming next in technology. we try to see it for what it is, a tool to build our brands by reaching people with fresh creative campaigns.”

Big idea first, channel, medium, tactics and execution second.

It’s about the idea, stupid!