The government says the amount of money spent on advertising in Ireland has more than doubled since 2010, while there is still a shortfall in the budget to meet the increased demand for online advertising.
But many experts believe the figures are wrong and that the government’s efforts to tackle the problem are failing.
It has also spent a lot of money on advertising that doesn’t seem to have a tangible impact on the quality of people’s lives, according to a survey by the advertising watchdog.
The agency’s chief executive, John Dolan, says advertising needs to be targeted to the people it says it will help, rather than a blanket advertising campaign that is a waste of taxpayers’ money.
He said the agency will be reviewing its advertising spending next year, with a view to making changes in order to ensure that it has “the resources to continue delivering a positive impact”.
The report, released on Thursday, said the total advertising spending on the island of Ireland in 2016 was €7.9bn. Of that, €4.7bn was spent on TV advertising, a further €3.9 billion on print, €1.8bn on social media and €3bn on mobile.
In addition, €2.5bn was allocated to advertising by the European Commission and the Council of Europe.
However, a quarter of the total spent was allocated for social media ads, a figure that is now well above the level required for the Commission to meet its target.
In total, €7bn of the €6.3bn in advertising expenditure was allocated directly to organisations that are directly connected to people’s life online.
The Irish Government has said it plans to spend €2bn to support the digital advertising industry, and will make a similar commitment in the coming years.
Mr Dolan said the amount spent on social networking advertising has been increasing significantly.
The average monthly spend on Facebook for the last year was €1,955, up from €1)846 in 2016.
The figures do not include spending on direct-to-consumer advertising.
“The reality is that social media has a much higher reach than it did ten years ago, as it is used by millions of people across the globe.
We know it is hugely effective in driving engagement and leads and the social media industry is now worth more than the internet,” Mr Dohan said.
“We believe that the online ad space is now a viable and important investment for Ireland.
We are going to have to look again at the advertising that is being spent and look at how we can better utilise it.”
He said social media companies had made progress in building out their ad networks, with “significant growth” in mobile advertising.
However he said that was “not enough” to ensure social media was being used “as a means of reaching people across all age groups”.
The Irish Independent understands that the Commission will continue to review its approach to the ad sector in the near future.
In response to the report, the Department of Culture, Tourism and the Gaeltacht said the government had “a long way to go” in improving its digital advertising strategy, but that it was investing in the digital ad market as a whole.
“Digital advertising is the fastest-growing segment in the advertising market in Ireland.
It’s the future of advertising, it’s the new normal, it’ll continue to grow,” said Minister for Digital Ireland Alan Kelly.
“It’s not just about the ads.
It starts with how the ads are used.
It includes the people using the ads and the messages that are being sent.
The government is investing in this area of the economy, to ensure it is successful, sustainable and a positive part of the future economy.”
The Department of Communications, Media and Sport said that advertising had to be done in the right way.
“Advertising is a key part of our advertising strategy.
The Government’s Digital Ad Strategy aims to provide a strong digital advertising platform for the Irish market and we will continue the work of making sure the ad is right for people and right for the ad,” said a spokesperson.