It's that time when media agencies publish their forecasts for the year ahead while setting down some markers and identifying key trends that are likely to feature in the wider marketing communications world.
While forecasting is far from being an exact science and comes with all the usual health warnings and caveats, forecasts do provide useful signposts for the road ahead as well as insights into how advertisers and their agencies perceive the media market and how they may weight their future investments.
As the largest marketing communications group in the country, Core's annual forecasts and Outlook report - which will be published in a few weeks' time - always make for interesting, and sometimes jaw-dropping, reading. And this year is no different.
But anyone looking for a major uplift in the fortunes of the media market will be disappointed. Unless your name is Mark Zuckerberg or Sundar Pichai.
"Unfortunately, the overall market isn't growing in line with economic growth and it has been that way for the past few years," says Eddie O'Mahony, Core's chief investment officer.
"Advertising and marketing budgets simply haven't grown that much over the past few years. The reality is that the big companies like Google and Facebook will continue to dominate the market and offline media will continue to decline," O'Mahony believes.
Overall, Core's forecast for 2020 points to a modest 1.6pc increase in media spend this year, rising from €1.04bn in 2019 to €1.06bn.
While the market will take any growth it can get, the headline figure does mask some worrying trends which raise bigger questions about the future financial health of the indigenous Irish media industry.
Not surprisingly, the biggest chunk - €566.5m, or 55.8pc - of this €1.06bn will be spent on digital advertising, including Google, Facebook as well as the many other websites that are owned by mainly Irish publishers and broadcasters. This is an increase of 7.5pc on the amount invested in 2019 and suggests a slowdown in the growth from previous years when double digits was the norm.
But with as much as €453.2m, or 80pc, likely to be spent with Google and Facebook alone, this leaves Irish publishers fighting for a slice of the remaining €113.3m - 20pc - of the total.
Set against a backdrop of a substantial decline in press advertising in recent years, however, this does not bode well for the sector.
In 2007, just before the painful death of the Celtic Tiger, national press advertising amounted to around €360m. Last year, according to Core, it had declined to around €105.1m. In 2020, this is forecast to drop by another 11.2pc to €92.1m. In other words, since 2007, press advertising has declined by a staggering 74.4pc.
When it comes to the indigenous broadcasting sector, which includes radio and TV, the picture also looks somewhat bleak.
At a time when the national broadcaster RTÉ remains financially challenged and faces stiff competition from Virgin Media Television and Sky, linear TV advertising this year is likely to decline by 2.4pc to €205.7m, according to Core.
However, TV broadcasters may see a bump in video-on-demand (VOD) advertising on their online catch-up services, with Core forecasting that VOD advertising could climb by as much as 20.8pc this year to €168.4m.
For the commercial radio sector, however, 2020 could be another choppy year when it comes to spot advertising with Core forecasting that radio advertising could be down by as much as 6.4pc to €103.4m.
Succour in the form of sponsorship revenue, however, is likely to alleviate some of the pain for stations, as more and more brands look to boost their activity in 2020 by sponsoring radio and TV shows. According to Core, the overall sponsorship market, including media and sponsorships, is likely to grow by around 9pc this year to €205.9m.
It's not all doom and gloom, however. One of the busiest channels in recent years - out-of-home (OOH) advertising - has seen its share of the overall market grow, buoyed on by the widespread use of digital advertising within the OOH mix.
Core has pencilled in a modest 3.2pc growth for 2020 with a spend of just over €90m.
But overall, the forecasts point to another challenging year ahead for the indigenous media sector and issues like consolidation, possible company failures and job losses are likely to loom large in 2020 and beyond.
And, at some stage, the thorny issue of the market dominance of Google and Facebook may need to be addressed by the next Minister for Communications. Otherwise, there may not be a viable and solvent media industry in Ireland in 10 years' time.
BOI’S NEW BLUE IDENTITY
Bank of Ireland has launched a new brand identity as well as a new advertising campaign to promote its mortgage offering. The new identity has been in the pipeline for several months and follows on from the launch of its brand platform, Begin, last year.
The new campaign, meanwhile, was created by Grey London and Oliver Ireland and will run across TV, online video, outdoor, cinema, radio and press, along with in-branch, digital and social media activity.
GALA BACKS TEAM IRELAND
The convenience retailer Gala has renewed its sponsorship of Special Olympics Ireland for another four years. Over the next four years, the retailer will invest a "six-figure sum" in supporting Team Ireland. Gala first partnered with Special Olympics Ireland for the World Summer Games in 2015 before cementing its relationship with the organisation to become a platinum sponsor of Special Olympics Ireland, supporting more than 8,000 athletes nationwide.
Sunday Indo Business