Digital Election: How Political Parties Are Using Facebook

Greg Miles | December 9th, 2019 | Read Time: 3 mins

With the UK general election less than one week away, political parties are ramping up their paid media spend on Facebook in the hopes of swaying undecided voters around the country. A total of £2.8M has been spent on Facebook ads since October between Conservatives, Labour, Liberal Democrats and The Brexit Party, at the time of writing.

Analysing data provided by Facebook’s Ad Library, we can see that Liberal Democrats have spent the most since the election was called, with the party’s total spend exceeding £1M. Meanwhile the Conservatives and The Brexit Party have both spent around £500,000 each, and Labour have invested just over £770,000 on their political ads.

Targeting & Messaging

It appears that Conservatives are targeting demographics aged over 35, with the main theme of their creative being to vote Conservative in order to avoid “the chaos of a hung parliament with Jeremy Corbyn as Prime Minister.”

Labour’s ads are targeting all demographics aged over 18, with different creatives targeting different age groups. Ads aimed at younger audiences focus on themes such as the future of the NHS and the environment, while other ads targeting older demograhics argue that “The Tories have never been on the side of working class people.”

Liberal Democrats are almost exclusively targeting 18-34 year olds with their main creative theme being to “stop Brexit and build a brighter future.”

The Brexit Party’s ads are heavily weighted towards targeting males, with the creative mostly focused on how “the political elite continue to betray Brexit” and “there will be no real Brexit without the Brexit Party in parliament.”

The Shift To Digital

The shift towards digital by political parties shows just how impactful advertising can be on social channels, due to mass reach and the ability to cater different messaging to different audiences. This practice has been the cause of much debate in recent years due to its apparant role in swinging the outcomes of the EU referendum and US Election.

As a result, social networks have come under major scrutiny for their political ads policies, with Facebook taking steps to provide more clarity around political advertising, and Twitter banning all political ads as of Novemebr 2019.

In the 2017 election, official political parties spent almost 18 times as much on ad campaigns across Facebook, Google, Amazon and Twitter as they did on adverts in traditional news media.

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