Ireland’s Alarming Digital Skills Gap

Only 1 in 5 marketers has entry level digital skills: Industry’s first digital skills study highlights alarming digital skills deficit in Ireland

How would you rate your digital marketing skills? You’d at least pass the basics, right? An eye-opening 8 out of 10 (83%) marketers tested for Ireland’s first Digital Skills Report  failed to even meet entry level competency.

Using the industry’s first digital marketing skills assessment based on knowledge, not sentiment, The Digital Marketing Institute (DMI) tested the skills of 622 marketers around the world (380 in Ireland) and there’s more bad news for Irish marketers – we scored 34% less than the global average.

Ireland’s largest deficiencies lie in the areas of digital strategy, email marketing and online advertising – all important for creating an effective digital strategy.

Impact on Ireland’s Economy

With a predicted 150,000 digital jobs and an internet economy worth €21.1bn by 2020, co-founder and director of the DMI, Ian Dodson believes that the implications for the Irish economy are significant.

“The digital economy has taken centre stage in Ireland’s economic recovery with the industry creating hundreds of jobs every month. If we can’t provide suitably skilled professionals to fill these positions Ireland could stand to lose its advantage as a European digital hub and as European headquarters for many of the major digital companies. The threat is even more acute as the talent pool grows in emerging economies,” says Dodson.

Additional key findings…

  • Irish marketers scored 30% below entry level competency and 34% below our international peers.
    Without improved digital marketing skills, Irish businesses will not be able to stop the drain of Irish consumers’ online spend going overseas, and the predicted recovery of Ireland’s economy, largely underpinned by digital channels, will be blocked.
  • Senior management are obstructing digital adoption
    Entry level marketers are 26% more proficient than their counterparts with over 20 years’ marketing experience. Unlike our international counterparts, digital strategy and planning is weakest among practitioners with greater experience in Ireland; explaining why as a nation we are not capitalising on the digital opportunity – it is not being implemented at a strategic level.
  • Ireland’s small businesses could be holding the country back
    Small businesses employ 23% of Ireland’s workforce but have notably lower digital skills than other Irish businesses. This is not reflected internationally, where skills levels remain consistent regardless of company size.
  • Ireland’s tourism sector capitalises on digital, while retail falls behind
    Outside of Marketing and Technology companies, the Hospitality and Leisure sector performed well, scoring 46%. Food and Beverage lurks at the other end of the scale with only 30% correct responses. Surprisingly, Retail marketers demonstrate relatively poor digital marketing skills (36%), despite the industry being at the forefront of eCommerce development internationally.
  • Dublin races ahead of the rest of the country
    Dublin’s digital skills levels are 57% higher than the rest of the country. Despite representing 53% of Ireland’s national GDP, Ireland’s digital skills outside the capital are among the lowest recorded throughout the study, sitting at 37%.
  • Women 11 per cent stronger in digital skills than men
    Irish women outperform men in digital marketing with 11% higher results, but only represent 30% of digital workers and 6.5% of executive directors.
  • Ireland fails on digital fundamentals, but is quick to adopt emerging mobile skills
    Ireland’s weakest digital marketing disciplines are online advertising (39%), email (41%) and social media marketing (41%). Results were notably better in mobile marketing (47%), the most rapidly emerging digital marketing discipline


Download the full report now for more in-depth insights and analysis into Ireland’s digital skills gap.

 This guest blog post was written by Ian Dodson (Digital Marketing Institute).



SEO in the Semantic Era (Part 2 of 6)

Semantic Search in Action

There is no big mystery to semantic search. It is however a new paradigm and is radically changing our experience of the internet – not just search. This second installment in the 6-part “SEO in the Semantic Era” article series, takes a simple view of the semantic internet as it is today and provides some context to semantic SEO. The things we do in semantic SEO are very significantly different from the things we have done in traditional SEO – but some ideas are carried over.

A Closer Look

So, it’s November and you’ve booked a flight online from Dublin to New York on 3rd December. Quietly behind the scenes, your ‘phone observes your confirmation email and makes a note.

The 3rd December arrives and you are deep into an important meeting which you are now beginning to rush as you have a flight to catch. Your ‘phone suddenly pings with a notification to say that your flight is delayed by one hour – you’ve a bit more time. Towards the end of the meeting you receive another notification to say that, in current traffic conditions, you will need to leave where you are within the next ten minutes to take the 90 minute trip to the airport – and there is an expected check-in queue of approx 30 minutes.

As you wait at the gate (or in the lounge), your ‘phone politely lets you know that “Les Mis” is playing tonight on Broadway and there are two tickets available if you would like them? It knows that you are a fan of Les Mis as you have seen it twice before! You book the tickets. Your Smartphone asks if you would like to book a taxi from your hotel to the Theatre? You select “no thanks”.

Scratching the Semantic Internet’s Surface

So, potentially, what else could your ‘phone help with? For a moment, let’s just review the above situation from the perspective of what it knows about you. It knows where you are at any moment in time (location services). It knows where you will be that evening (via email confirmations and online bookings). It may know where you will be tomorrow (your calendar) and perhaps the following day, who you are meeting (your private notes and records) and perhaps some background on them by way of a collated “briefing” – perhaps in the form of a “knowledge graph” (acquired). It also knows about your preferred mode of transport (your App and browser history), the hotels you like, the restaurants and types of food you like. In fact, when you allow it, it knows very significantly more detail about you that the few little examples here.

The real question is, when it knows all this information about you, what are the multitude of ways it can serve you? This is the semantic era we live in today – not one that’s coming tomorrow. What is still evolving is the cross-platform apps and services that will use this data in particular ways. Leading the field currently is “Google Now” which you will see a lot more of.

What has this got to do with SEO?

Bear in mind that Google is a search engine. As “Google Now” or a similar agent provides its services to you, it does so based on two types of information – (1) information that it knows about you, and (2) information that it acquires as needed in real time. In the second instance, information is acquired based on either the preferences it knows you have, or by using its search capability – ie. the organic search results it finds. In this case, whether you see those search results or not, the process is exactly similar to you doing a normal Google search. The benefactors are those products and services that are organically present against those searches.

Semantic SEO V Traditional SEO

As semantic search results are “intent based”, they rely less on the keywords inside a search query and more on what Google knows about the searcher (a “persona”). Remember that Google introduced semantic search to further improve the quality of its search results – to increase their relevance based on a deeper understanding of what is being searched for. Fundamentally, this has not changed. Google has always tried to do this. What has changed is Google’s ability to better interpret the enormous number of search permutations that are looking for the same thing.

Think of it as a simple long-tail search, say “how to make a paper airplane that can actually fly”. How many ways could you have described what you are looking for? Would it surprise you if the answer was well in excess of ten thousand? Perhaps it is not surprising when you consider the sheer size of our vocabulary.

With traditional SEO, you would identify exact match keyword phrases such as ‘paper airplane’, ‘origami airplane” etc.. and align your SEO accordingly. With semantic SEO, the onus falls on you to research and understand the language of your target persona, including their colloquialisms, subtleties and other behaviors that will help you produce, deploy and structure content that aligns to the language – not just the keywords.

If you think that semantic search is therefore encouraging more long-tail searches then you would be correct. Not only is Google better able to process these searches, it is now better able to discern better results for poorer ones. The result is that those who continue to target traditional short tail keywords with higher search volumes, will experience significant inconsistency in their rankings as Google’s perception of the true search intent improves. Over time, traditional SEO will be unable to sustain any organic traction at all.

Article 3 in this series will be published next week: “Content Marketing in the Semantic Search”

This blog post was written by John Coburn (PraxisNow) who can be contacted at 01-2360076.  PraxisNow runs two SEO Certification Groups – each 4 weeks in duration: (1) Beginner to Intermediate SEO, and (2) Advanced SEO – details at  If you would like more information on Content Marketing and the digital challenge, check out their annual briefing at:


SEO in the Semantic Era (Part 1 of 6)

Introducing Semantic Search

You might know that Google introduced its “hummingbird” algorithm in late 2013 and has committed to evolve it as the future of search. Hummingbird was the harbinger of a major change away from keyword-based search results towards “intent” based search results, otherwise known as “semantic” search.

Context for Search Queries

This means that Google is now doing several things in its attempt to understand the true intent of a search query – not just based on the words in the query. For example, Google has concluded that search results based on keyword relevance alone are not always the best quality results. Google is now looking for context to a search query. This context may be provided by the qualifying words in the actual query (not just the keywords themselves), the searcher’s historical behaviour when they engage the internet (not just search) and several other indicators. Ultimately, even a searcher’s habits, tendencies, likes / dislikes and indeed everything that a searcher is willing to share with Google may be used as indicators of intent.

New Level of Personalisation

This raises many questions which will not be addressed here for space reasons. Suffice it to say however, that contrary to what many people believe in relation to not sharing their personal data on the internet, precedent would suggest that a very large percentage of searchers will indeed allow Google access to more information about them. This includes such things as their browser history, search history, online behaviours, Google+ profile information, places / maps information etc…

In exchange for this, Google is offering a far more personalised search experience. One that maintains the birds-eye view that is needed for objective research and which avoids the “fish-eye”, limited personalisation of the past. Indeed, such an experience can, in many cases, anticipate a searcher’s needs and present them with information before they even ask for it.

If you’ve used “Google Now” on Android, you already have a flavour of what is going on here. For example, if Google knows you’ve booked a flight, and knows where you are now, you may see a notification to remind you that you need to be leaving for the airport as, in current traffic, it will take you 90 minutes to get there plus a further 30 minutes to check-in. Not bad when you didn’t set a reminder and Google determined this solely from your flight confirmation email of two weeks ago.

Drivers of Semantic Search

There are a few drivers of the need for semantic search. They include the “conversational” search demands of mobile device users who tend to speak their search query in a much more specific way than an abbreviated keyboard search. They also include the need to present increasingly more specific search results as the sheer volume of information available on the internet grows exponentially. In essence, Google is encouraging specific “long-tail” searches because it is now so good at interpreting it!

What it means for SEO

The implications of semantic search for SEO are gargantuan. At their very core, is a change in emphasis from targeting identified key-phrases to targeting the wider language permutations of an identified marketing persona. This shift in focus alters the most basic performance metric in SEO. Today, one of the key SEO performance indicators is called a “ranking report”; a report showing how your website’s pages are being organically placed against each of the individual key-phrases you have targeted. With semantic search, the emphases switches to content – your key performance measurement will be how your content is performing against the totality of search behaviours for which it is ranked. This is radical. It reflects a new emphasis on your content’s ability to attract traffic from within your targeted persona, irrespective of the keyword language they may use. Not an easy task.

This means that the early stage research processes which SEO’s used in the past to identify relevant keywords, must shift to identifying the wider “language” of your target persona(s) and producing a regular stream of content that aligns to your persona’s behaviour.

What it means for Exporting Businesses

There’s good news and good news, and bad news and bad news here. The bad news is that significantly more complexity has been added to the task of localisation and search engine optimisation for multiple geographic markets. Even the language subtleties across English speaking markets now require consideration where persona behaviours can vary considerably. The second piece of bad news is that a static website is not going to cut it in the new semantic era. You will now need to get active is “content marketing”; more specifically SEO-directed content marketing – more on that throughout the series.

The good news is that relatively few companies currently understand what SEO-directed content marketing is. So if you apply it and practice it, you will improve your international SEO traction. The second piece of good news is that by following the SEO-directed content marketing process, every piece of content you create will contribute to and continually build your overall digital content “asset”. As your content will be both search optimised and value-driven, it will be the hub of all your digital channels – not just SEO. The same content will add value across each of your advertising, social, email marketing and other digital channels whist retaining an independent ability to attract relevant traffic from search engines that is capable of converting for you.

Article 2 in this series will be published next week: “Semantic Search in Action

This blog post was written by John Coburn (PraxisNow) who can be contacted at 01-2360076.  PraxisNow runs two SEO Certification Groups – each 4 weeks in duration: (1) Beginner to Intermediate SEO, and (2) Advanced SEO – details at  If you would like more information on Content Marketing and the digital challenge, check out their annual briefing at:


Strategic Pricing Workshop ISA Software Skillnet, 20 Nov 2014


Getting pricing right is critical to the success of any product. If pricing is not carried out with skill, companies can lose sales or win business but ‘leave money on the table’.

This day will teach you the strategies to help you set and keep your price (and discounts) aligned with your objectives. It will cover the pros and cons of different strategies, the issues to look out for and how to set a price for your products or services.

The strategic importance of the pricing discipline requires that product managers adopt a tailored, value-based approach to their products and solutions. A structured process helps integrate and apply critical value and competitive perspectives supporting optimal returns.


Delegates will:
  • Learn different pricing strategies including skimming, penetration, competitor tracking, segmented and value-based pricing, how they work and when they’re appropriate.
  • Learn the different ways in which software can be priced and when each is appropriate. This will include: transitioning from on premise software to SaaS; usage, seat and concurrent user based pricing; monthly vs perpetual licenses.
  • Learn the issues with bundling products and the opportunities created by establishing laddered pricing structures.
  • Learn the challenges and how best to handle discounting
  • Learn insights from pricing psychology to refine your price
  • Learn the best way to introduce your pricing offline and to test your pricing online

The Workshop will be held in Dublin on Thursday, the 20th November 2014.

For more information and to register, please click on the following link:—strategic-pricing/


Big Data Analytics: technology’s hottest trend


This event is targeted at managers in Business and Technology who are keen to know how Big Data Analytics can rapidly deliver competitive advantage for their business. There will be overviews of the state of the art in analytics covering visualisation, data management and analytics techniques. There will also be several short presentations from Irish companies outlining the business value being derived from the everyday application of Data Analytics.

Attendees will have the opportunity to experience hands-on demonstrators from Irish companies showing how Big Data Analytics is unlocking hidden value in their data.

When & Where: 18 Sept (Dublin) and 23 Sept (Cork) 9am-1pm

The Centre for Applied Data Analytics (CeADAR) is an industry-led technology centre for the development, and deployment of analytic technology and innovation. The Centre is a joint initiative between Enterprise Ireland and the IDA.

CeADAR’s 3 core work programmes are:

Intelligent Analytic Interfaces allow ordinary users to derive benefits from exploring data, developing insights and communicating results from advanced analytics tools

Data Management for Analytics develops approaches, methods and tools to improve, simplify and reduce the effort involved in the management of data for analytics purposes

Advanced Analytics creates approaches, tools and techniques for social trending, social fingerprinting, continuous analytics and the detection of cause and effect across data streams

The Open Day will feature:

  • 3 talks overviewing the state of the art in the core areas of Big Data Analytics
  • 8 industry presentations illustrating real-world applications of Big Data Analytics
  • 20 hands-on demonstrators of analytics tools co-developed with the CeADAR Centre


09:00-09:30 Continental breakfast and hands-on Big Data Analytics demonstrators

09:30-09:40 Welcome & introduction to CeADAR

09:40-10:10 Overview of Big Data Analytics

10:10-10:40 Industry Experts Panel: Industry’s challenges and opportunities with analytics

10:40-11:25 Examples from Irish companies of Big Data Analytics at work

11:25-11:30 Wrap-up

11:30-13:00 Lunch and hands-on Big Data Analytics demonstrators

Register for the Dublin Event on 18 Sept 2014

Register for the Cork Event on 23 Sept 2014

Putting an interactive map on your website


Once upon a time a map was something that you took on holidays or that you kept on the back seat of the car. Now a map is not just a map – it’s a digital map:  an interactive tool for research and analysis, for data visualization and for key business planning.

And yet while many websites happily adopt the old idea of a map to highlight where certain types of business are located – shops, cafes, etc – they overlook the rich potential of using an interactive map.

Missing map

Let me give you an example. Each week, I check a certain website that highlights all the best travel deals on the internet. When I go to the website, I am presented with a list of offers. To find out more details, I have to click on each individual offer.

embedded map

The interactive map has more immediacy and is far more inviting than a list or spreadsheet

Putting all that information on a map – on the same page – would be so much easier. All I would have to do is click on a mapped point and a pop-up information box could tell me everything that I wished to know about an offer – as well as showing me where in the world it is!  Not only is this a faster way to access key information, it is also more engaging to me as a viewer.

Perceived obstacles to interactive mapping

I can only assume that sites such as the above resist taking the interactive mapping route due to a perceived belief that it is too complicated.

In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. As the technology has moved from the world of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to free online mapping placing a map on a website is no more difficult than copying and pasting one line of code. You don’t even need knowledge of HTML coding to do that!

5 Reasons to embed a map on a website

(1) It’s data visualization! The phrasea picture is worth a thousand words” has converted into the term data visualization in recent years. You can hardly open a newspaper or read a web page, without finding an infographic of some sort. A map is a type of infographic, but it doesn’t require in-depth graphic skills to produce…as the next paragraph explains.

(2) A map can be created in minutes. Mapping software now allows you to upload spreadsheet data containing a location element (address, postcode, etc) and then automatically plot it on a map. If the software is built on Google Maps, then you can have a high level of trust of the locations plotted.

(3) You can get an awful lot of information on a map For instance, eSpatial allows up to 100,000 items to be plotted on a map – per day! That’s an awful lot of lines to scan on a spreadsheet or in a list, when you’re in a hurry. An interactive map – just like maps throughout history – directs your eye to exactly the information you want at any given time. You avoid sifting through irrelevant data.

(4) A map can indicate scale and reach of operations Imagine you are a business that needs to impress by suggestion of scale. For instance, you could be a parts distributor and you want to communicate that those parts are available nationwide, through various outlets. Yes, a long list of names can be impressive – but not as useful as a map, because the viewer can instantly discern how near or far you are from them.

(5) A map can connect people and motivate them Never has this been more obvious to us than when we speak to non-profit clients. In this case, a map becomes a point of unity for initially disparate elements: volunteer, sponsors/funders and beneficiaries. The map in itself also can show key policy makers where the highest need for a service exists – or indeed where there is a complete absence of that service

This blog post was written by Patrick Butler from eSpatial   For more information on creating a map and embedding it on your website visit


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