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How Important Is Social Media Listening In Understanding Customer Sentiment?

Posted By Kantar Media, Monday 5 September 2016

Comments on social media can be skewed towards either gushing praise or damning criticism by a largely younger audience, but social listening is an important addition to the mix of customer feedback. So what are the options for businesses who want to keep an ear out on Twitter, Facebook and everything in-between?

Marcus Gault, Managing Director of Insight at Kantar Media, spoke to The Times Raconteur on the importance of using social media listening to understand consumer sentiment.

Raconteur: Can firms rely on what consumers say online? Are digital profiles always the best representation of consumer behaviour?

Marcus Gault: "Broadly speaking, yes they can. Digital platforms are one of the primary ways that consumers express their views, which makes them a valuable source of information for businesses. For example, in the past companies had to rely solely on consumer surveys to understand how they were perceived; now they can tap into a huge volume of detailed, real-time data on how they are being talked about. In turn, they can use this insight to direct their strategy. 
Of course, there are caveats. Firms must anticipate that consumer sentiment will be skewed towards the negative, because digital channels are a popular way to make a complaint or raise a customer service issue. Additionally, with social media use more prominent amongst some sections of society than others, this content will not always provide a true representation of the company’s customer base.

At Kantar Media, we advise companies to avoid treating online conversations in isolation and instead combine different types of measurement - including more traditional market research - as part of one holistic approach."

Raconteur: What methods are companies using to dig a little deeper than simply what pages Joe Bloggs 'likes' on Facebook?

Marcus Gault: "To capitalise on the rich insights that online platforms produce, companies have to go beyond counting up quantitative metrics such as ‘likes’ and understand the sentiment and topics of conversations.
There are two primary ways that firms are doing this. First, there are plenty of cost-effective, automated tools designed to isolate consumer conversations from other kinds of content, such as marketing content, and analyse what exactly is being said. But these have limitations when it comes to accurately identifying sentiment and analysing editorial content.

Second, many businesses are now choosing to make a bigger investment in services that offer human analysis of online conversations. This gives a much more sophisticated understanding of how and why consumers are talking about a company or subject, but does come at a higher cost.”

Raconteur: Are social listening strategies used by professional companies - banks, law firms - to garner information about their customers in the same way as the retail sector?

Marcus Gault: "Social media may be playing an ever-growing role in how businesses understand and engage with consumers, but it’s not equally relevant for all sectors and this is reflected in variations in how listening strategies are used.
For professional companies, such as wealth managers, accountants and law firms, their customers simply don’t discuss these services on social media channels in the same way as they do for B2C businesses, such as retailers, which means social listening doesn’t create such a high return on investment.

What we are increasingly seeing both consumer and professional services firms do is use social measurement as a tool to inform a range of different departments and functions - from marketing to customer service, PR and product development - rather than taking a one-size-fits-all approach across the business. As social media becomes a more dominant part of consumer and business conversations, we anticipate this approach being replicated further across all sectors.”

This piece was originally published on

Read the full article from The Times Raconteur here


Kantar Media provides critical information that helps our clients make better decisions about communications. We enable the world’s leading brands, publishers, agencies and industry bodies to navigate and succeed in a rapidly evolving media industry. Our services and data include; analysis of paid media opportunities; counsel on brand reputation, corporate management and consumer engagement through owned media and evaluating consumers’ reactions in earned media. As the global house of expertise in media and marketing information, Kantar Media provides clients with a broad range of insights, from audience research, competitive intelligence, vital consumer behaviour and digital insights, marketing and advertising effectiveness to social media monitoring. Our experts currently work with 22,000 companies tracking over 4 million brands in 50 countries.


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Featured Member: Oisineagh O'Donnell, Digital Marketing Manager, Davy

Posted By The Marketing Institute, Monday 22 August 2016

The Marketing Institute recognises excellence at every level, and so we have introduced our Featured Member Series, featuring some of our most esteemed colleagues.


Oisíneagh graduated with an honours degree in marketing management from ITT.

She began her career on the marketing graduate programme in Electric Ireland where she spent her first year on the web development team, learning the fundamentals  of websites and their design.

From there, she jumped at the opportunity to join the digital marketing team and it was here that she really gained a love for all things digital. Working on some amazing projects such as digital activations for Electric Ireland's sponsorship of the Web Summit. 

Oisineagh worked alongside team and managed the build of the switching platform to allow users switch to Electric Ireland from the website. It was the tracking of online sales and leads from this project, along with managing the AdWords campaigns for the team, where Oisineagh gained a true appreciation for the trackability of digital and the ability to show the return on investment for her campaigns. She then completed the Professional Diploma in Digital Marketing from the Digital Marketing Institute.

After the digital experience gained in Electric Ireland, Oisíneagh took the opportunity to move to Cornmarket Group Financial Services. Straight away she worked on managing the redesign of their complex website that was required to suit each niche market of the Cornmarkets' client base.

After that, she worked alongside the UK senior management team to formulate and manage the digital strategy for Cornmarket insurances entry into the UK market,. This achieved great results from the social and digital campaigns in their first year to market. It was this project that helped Oisineagh to win the "Excellence in Service" award which is given by Cornmarket once annually to a  staff member who has demonstrated outstanding commitment to service. 

Recently, Oisíneagh joined the marketing team at Davy as the digital marketing manager. She is engaged in bringing and maximising Davy's brand refresh to into the digital world by managing the re-design of the Davy websites. Oisíneagh has also implemented successful content led digital campaigns to drive leads, reduce the age and increase the size of Davy’s database.


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Featured Member: Mark Henry, Central Marketing Director, Tourism Ireland

Posted By The Marketing Institute, Tuesday 16 August 2016

The Marketing Institute recognises excellence at every level, and so we have introduced our Featured Member Series, featuring some of our most esteemed colleagues.



Mark is an insight-driven, strategic marketer and is an established leader in deploying new media marketing.  He leads the Central Marketing Division of Tourism Ireland – the public body responsible for marketing the island of Ireland overseas.  

Mark has responsibility for the organisation’s marketing functions on the island of Ireland, with teams based in both Dublin and Coleraine. His remit covers strategy development, research, brand, content, marketing communications, e-marketing, customer service, and cooperative marketing activity with the tourism industry. He has previously led the promotion of national tourism initiatives such as “The Gathering 2013” and “Northern Ireland 2012” overseas. Mark is currently Vice President of the European Travel Commission which unites 32 of Europe’s national tourist boards.

Before joining Tourism Ireland Mark was Strategic Development Manager with the Internet arm of Horizon Technology Group plc. Before that again he was Head of Research & Planning for the e-business subsidiary of eircom. Mark possesses Masters degrees in both Psychology and Business Administration.  

Overseas tourism to Ireland reached a record high in 2015 with over 9.5 million visitors to the island (+13% growth over 2014), of which 4.4 million were here for a holiday (+20% growth).  Tourism Ireland continues to lead its European competitors with the largest digital footprint of any national tourism organisation and award-winning campaigns that have leveraged the success of ‘Game of Thrones’ and ‘Star Wars’ to create new reasons to visit our wonderful island.


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Consumer Spending In Ireland Unaffected By Brexit - Latest Consumer Market Monitor Report

Posted By The Marketing Institute & UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School, Monday 15 August 2016

  • Q2 spending on personal consumption is up by 5 percent on Q1 2016
  • Household debt (€32,269 per capita) is now at its lowest level since 2006 and is reducing at a rate of about 2.4 percent per annum
  • An increase of 7.8 percent was seen in the sale of services on the previous year

The recovery and expansion of the Irish consumer economy is now well established and not showing any sign of being negatively affected by Brexit. This is one of the key findings of the latest Consumer Market Monitor (CMM), published today by The Marketing Institute of Ireland and UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School. Data from the second quarter of the CMM indicates that the consumer economy in Ireland is now showing strong evidence of a broad-based, sustainable recovery.

The only area that is not thriving is property sales which are down by 7 percent this year, in direct contrast to every other area of consumer spending, with no evidence of a pick-up in the short term. 

Mary Lambkin, Professor of Marketing, UCD Smurfit School and one of the authors of the Monitor, said: “The imbalance of consumer spending and property sales needs to be addressed so as to bring the economy into better balance. Property sales ae struggling and there is sign of forthcoming growth in this area. As of May 2016, we have only seen 16,743 sales which is in stark contrast to 48,700 residential sales transactions in 2015.” 

Tom Trainor, Chief Executive, The Marketing Institute of Ireland, said: “In contrast to the UK’s consumer confidence downward plunge by 8 points to -9 following the Brexit vote, the largest drop in a single period in 21 years, consumer confidence remains strong in Ireland and bodes well for continuing economic activity. We appear to have a sustainable and broad-based recovery taking place.”


The 26 percent growth in Irish GDP that sparked recent controversy highlights the point that a far more realistic measure of our economic wellbeing is the growth in personal consumption which makes up 55 percent of national economic activity. 

The starting point is with the amount of disposable income circulating in the economy, because spending very closely matches income. In fact, there has been a remarkable increase in disposable income in recent times with very positive effects - gross disposable income increased by 5 percent in 2015, and by a similar amount in the first quarter of 2016.

The improvement in the labour market has been the most important factor driving this income growth, with employment increasing by more than 2 percent each year since early 2012. There is now 1.98 million people at work, up 46,900 year-on-year, and up by 152,000 since the low point in 2012. Pay increases have also contributed 2.7 percent on average in 2015, as have increased earnings among the self-employed.

Confidence is still strong here and is driving a steady increase in consumer spending that is producing better sales performance in virtually all retail and service sectors. Some of this reflects “pent up demand” following a long period of recession, and this can be seen most clearly in continued growth of “big ticket” items – home furnishings, new cars, clothing and other consumer durables – all of which are up very strongly in recent quarters.

Sales of new cars are an indicator of economic recovery, and Ireland is no exception. Following several lean years, sales of new cars were up over 30 percent last year to 121,110. 2016 is continuing this trend, although at a slightly slower rate, with 97,490 cars sold in the first half of the year, up 24 percent on the same period in 2015. This suggests a final figure of about 150,000 cars which will bring us close to the average of around 160,000 cars sold each year in the early 2000s prior to the economic downturn.

Sales of services such as accommodation, food and drink, and entertainment have also been strengthening, up by 7.8 percent for the year to May 2016, following 6 percent growth in 2015. Retail sales are also improving significantly; sales volume rose by 6 percent in 2015 and by a further 5 percent in the first half of this year. All retail categories got a boost in recent quarters, and the evidence suggests that 2016 is delivering strong growth for most retailers.

Sale of property is one area that is not showing strong growth. There were 48,700 residential sales transactions in 2015, and more than 40,000 in 2014. In contrast, there was just 16,743 sales to the end of May 2016, down 7 percent on the same period in 2015. Mortgage approvals were also down 11 percent to the end of May, further evidence of a weak market. Growth for the year is expected to be muted with the data indicating it will be less than 5 percent.


Consumer confidence showed signs of recovery in 2013 and this rose throughout 2014 and 2015. Confidence level reached a record high in June 2015 and remained strong through the rest of the year. At this point, consumer confidence in Ireland was well ahead of the last peak in 2007, and also well ahead of other European countries.

There has been a slight weakening in confidence during the first half of 2016 which may be reflective of uncertainly about the formation of a new government and Brexit. However, consumer confidence remains strong here and bodes well for continuing economic activity.

In contrast, consumer confidence in the UK has dipped in recent months, a clear sign that the vote to leave the European Union is harming the nation’s outlook. The core Index fell 8 points to -9 in the weeks following the Brexit vote, the largest drop in a single period in 21 years.


Household disposable income rose by over 5 percent in 2015 from €90 billion to €95 billion. This rise is due to a combination of expanding employment and increasing pay rates. There is now 1.98 million people at work, up 152,000 since 2012. Irish households also saw a pay increase of 2 percent in 2015. 

Disposable income was up by a further 6 percent on Q1 2016, largely driven by pay increases, with the amount of money now circulating in the economy very close to the level of the 2007 peak.

Personal consumption in total was up by 4.5 percent in 2015, and is up by 5 percent in Q1 2016, with no sign so far of a Brexit effect. Growth of 4 percent is forecast for the year as a whole.


Household debt is now at its lowest level since 2006, at €32,269 per capita, and is reducing at a rate of about 2.4 percent per annum. The ratio of household debt to disposable income has fallen by 60 percent since its peak of 215 percent in mid-2011. This rate of debt reduction has surpassed most other countries, but still remains relatively high at 167 percent of disposable income. 


Following five years of decline, a significant turnaround occurred in 2014, which accelerated further in 2015, with sales volume up by an impressive 6.1 percent.

2016 is continuing to deliver strong sales growth for most retailers with spending in the first half of the year up 5.5 percent in volume, year-on-year. 


The latest indicators for 2016 show continued momentum in consumer spending. Sales of new cars were up over 30 percent in 2015 to 121,110. 2016 is continuing this trend, although at a slightly slower rate, with 97,490 cars sold in the first half, up 24 percent. This suggests a final figure of about 150,000 cars, close to the average of 160,000 sold each year in the early 2000s.

The services sector grew by 5.8 percent in 2015, and is continuing to grow strongly in 2016, up by 7.8 percent for the first five months of the year, with telecommunications, food and beverages, and professional services very buoyant.

Retail sales, excluding the motor trade, were up 4.5 percent in volume and 1.4 percent in value in the second quarter of 2016. All product categories experienced growth; most remarkable is the growth in sectors that have been weak throughout the recession, such as bars and newsagents. In summary: 

  • Food sales up 3.2 percent in volume and up 2.5 percent in value; 
  • Non-specialised stores (supermarkets) up 3.1 percent in volume and 2.5 percent in value; 
  • Fuel up 1.7 percent in volume but down 6.6 percent in value;
  • Clothing, footwear and textiles up 7.6 percent in volume and 5.9 percent in value; 
  • Household equipment up 8.6 percent in volume and 4.5 percent in value;
  • Department stores up 3.2 percent in volume and 1.5 percent in value;
  • Pharmaceuticals and cosmetics up 4.8 percent in volume and 4.2 percent in value;
  • Bar sales up 6 percent in volume and up 7 percent in value.
  • Books, newspapers, stationery up 0.6 percent in volume and 1.4 percent in value 

Overall, we can conclude that retail sales are back on a strong growth path, and holding that strength in each successive quarter.



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Latest JNLR Analysis - July 2016

Posted By Carat, Friday 29 July 2016

The Irish public’s love affair with radio has always been a long and faithful one and the latest results prove that our inherently aural culture persists with 83% listening everyday (down 1% YOY). These figures are from the latest JNLR report release covering Jul 15 – Jun 16 period. All data is compared to previous 12 month period, Jul 14 – Jun 15.

The amount of time spent listening is marginally down 0.5% YOY at 4.13 hours daily (All Adults). Whilst listening for 35+ has been flat, the younger demographics have shown a decrease. Traditional radio has done well to maintain, and even grow, youth audience listenership in recent years given the acceleration of technology and emergence of new platforms.

The latest listenership figures are somewhat surprising as the largest decrease in time spent listening was not among 15-19’s (flat YOY) but among 20-24’s (-2.9%) and more surprisingly 25-34’s, which went down 4%. While this is not cause for immediate alarm, any valuable audience segment that decreases 4% is a concern. This may demonstrate that new platforms are growing in prominence (such as Spotify and Apple music) at the expense of traditional radio, or it may be an early sign that challenges the belief that as younger audiences grow up they naturally embrace legacy media. Radio broadcasters are quickly evolving into multi-channel propositions to combat the loss of linear listenership.



Carat Ireland, part of the world's leading independent media planning & buying agency and the market-leader in digital and non-traditional media solutions. Owned by global media group Aegis Group plc, listed on the London stock exchange, the Carat network is more than 5,000 people in 70 countries worldwide. 

Today, advances in digital technology and changing consumer behaviour has created an era of unprecedented complexity and opportunity for clients. Media is now an ecosystem that includes bought, owned and earned communications. In this new era, Carat is leading and shaping the industry once again, using media in new ways to deliver business value to clients.

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